Budget Deficit

Kids Put Adults on Trial in Vintage 1986 Ridley Scott Commercial on the Deficit


This vintage Ridley Scott commercial—in which the children of a post-apocalyptic future put adults on trial for failing to control the deficit—was deemed too hot for TV…in 1986. It feels awfully timely today.

Ridley Scott—W. R. Grace Deficit Trials by angelseyth

Dan Rather called it a political commercial on "the sticker shock and future shock of deficit spending." Paid for by the CEO of chemical company W.R. Grace, it was supposed to air after Reagan's State of the Union address. According to Rather, "The networks…don't want to open the door to just any advertiser who can afford the money to push his own ideas."

Get the whole backstory from a contemporary news segment below:

The saddest moment: When the prosecutor kid says dramatically, "By 1986, the national debt had reached 2 trillion dollars. Didn't that scare you?" Another $12 trillion later, the adults remain speechless.

The commerical is set in 2017, so now is probably a good time to start stockpiling fingerless gloves and hats with earflaps in preparation for the advent of deficit-induced neo-Victorian urchin chic. 

Via Michael E.

NEXT: Politicized Global Warming in the GOP

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  1. It’s amazing how bad deficit spending is when you’re out of power.

    1. Wiggly Scott knew this.

    2. I should also add how bad deficit spending is when you’re, you know, the one paying back the debt.

    3. Dems weren’t out of power in 1986.

      1. I know that, but they sure acted like it at the time. Reagan freaked their shit out.

      2. Also, you have to remember that they lost control of Congress (just the Senate, to be sure), which they’d had for quite some time.

        1. It’s always someone else’s fault.

    4. So bad that Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling when Bush was president.

  2. Another $12 trillion later, the kids have become those speechless adults.


    1. Um, scuse? Gen X is never going to see a dime of entitlement spending.

      1. If they do, it’ll be over my dead body!

      2. I really didn’t think the joke through that far.

    2. If you think they’re speechless now, just wait until they see the new $2 trillion dollar deficits.

  3. Was that… was that James Galbraith in the dock?

    1. Ridley Scott signs on to direct a new Blade Runner movie

      1. BladeRunner II?

        He better put naration in it from the beginning on this one, because the BladeRunner director’s cut was way overated… aspiring beret-wearing film school students smoking clove cigarettes can get stuffed.

        1. I’m just going to say it–I liked the V.O. Yeah, I know. I don’t care. It was more. . .noiry.

          1. Exactly. It was one of the (arguably few?) cases where the studio released a better film than the director’s original vision.

            1. I really liked both. The director’s cut has a very spare, minimal feel to it’s story telling, while the release version has exactly Pro Lib’s Noir vibe.

              1. I thought Apocalypse Now Redux was a horrible, bloated garble that made me lose much the the affection I had for the original (fiery-ending) version (not to be confused with the original quiet-ending version). Jeez. Can someone just make up their fucking mind, already!

                1. Can someone just make up their fucking mind, already!

                  How ya doin’?

                2. Agreed. Coppola was a great director when he edited the film in the first place. One of the best ever. He knew what he was doing.

                  Watching Redux was interesting, just seeing what was cut, but if I’m going to put in a DVD to watch for entertainment purposes, I’m watching the original release.

                3. Director’s cut of Apocalypse sucked air. It’s a classic case of what happens when a director goes off the chain.



            2. The ending was way-out of left field though. I mean driving through some random pastoral landscape? I prefer the Final Cut without Ford’s turgid narration. It’s easy enough to understand if you just pay attention, which apparently studios think audiences are too stupid to do nowadays. Just look at what they did to Star Trek.

              1. Just look at what they did to Star Trek.

                You made made a movie that lots of people watched and enjoyed….The horror.

                1. A lot of dumb people, who probably enjoyed Transformers too. It was a turd.

                  1. What and the smart people enjoyed these gems:

                    The Undiscovered Country, Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis.

                    turds indeed.

                    As Star Trek movies go the new one makes the the top 3 easy…and that is being generous simply because the first one gets credit for being so weird and fucked up and wrath has this:


                    1. For the record First Contact and The Undiscovered Country were good movies for different reasons. Nemesis I enjoyed despite its flaws. I any case I’d rather watch those again than Star Trek ’09 because at least they attemped to give the characters meaningful dialogue and convey a theme.

                    2. Undiscovered Country was a good movie you nimrod. First Contact was pretty good too. The rest were shit and are rightly slated. I’d take a good episode of one of trek TV shows any day over the shitty/vacant Abrams movie any day.


                2. Which should’ve been called something other than Star Trek.

                  1. Exactly. It may have been an entertaining movie but I absolutely hated the entire concept. I understand the difficulty in trying to do something new with something so well worn but to just rewind and throw away most of what made it Star Trek in order to have a free hand to do whatever you darn well please just smacks of lazy film making. Mission Impossible was an entertaining movie but it didn’t have squat to do Mission Impossible. Entertaining, yes but turds nonetheless.

                    1. Agreed. In fact, I agree with both examples. Mission Impossible took a big crap on the series and its fans in many ways, most especially in making Jim Phelps a bad guy. I mean, come on. What’s next, a Jesus movie with Jesus being a bad guy?

                    2. What bothered me most was the casting. How could you possibly believe that characters that look like college sophmores would be given command of the Enterprise?

                    3. The casting was not the problem, the concept in the movie was. No matter how good a job Kirk does resolving the crisis in the story, there no sane explanation for giving a cadet permanant command of a capital ship.

                    4. I absolutely agree: MI was an enetrtaining movie but basically ripped off the name (while trashing the Jim Phelps character). I would probably have watched the whole series of movies, were they given other titles. But as they are wrongfully called “Mission Impossible,” I refuse to watch them, in honor of the original. Jim Phelps and Peter Graves, RIP.

              2. Agreed. Original version of BR might be more noir-ish, but I like the director’s cut better in every way. Especially the ending. I think we can all agree that Apocalypse Now Redux is a turd.

          2. I thought the noir narration wasn’t bad, but it would have been better if Ford didn’t sound infinite bored. World-weary is one thing; that dude was straight-up bored.

            1. As I understand it, Ford was opposed to the VO and did it poorly either on purpose, or, as he claimed later, because he didn’t think it would actually be used.

        2. Unless you’d read the PKD original, I have no idea how you’d know WTF was going on w/o the narration.

          1. That was the complaint my wife had when she first watched the director’s cut with me. She had very little clue WTF was happening.

      2. Please, please don’t suck.

        1. Reminds me of that episode of South Park where George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola ruin all their classic films with re-edits and re-releases.

          May Roy Batty push Scott’s eyes into his head if he screws this up.

      3. They’re also remaking “Footloose.”. I mean, what the fuck, man? Even using the original character names but going multicultural, of course.

        I think Hollywood died a decade ago.

        1. They still make pretty good zombie themed movies….maybe the Footloose remake will be in the “revenant” category. They could even press the original actors into service.

          1. They could even press the original actors into service.

            What, are they gonna use Sarah Jessica Parker’s vagina as the dance hall?

            1. If they can clean it up and do something about the smell…then why not?

      4. Ridley Scott signs on to direct a new Blade Runner movie

        he is also supposed to make an alien prequel which isn’t a prequel…or something.

        Of course this is all after he said Sci-Fi in movies is dead.


        1. Ha! Just considering how much great science fiction hasn’t made it to film (even some of the works that supposedly have), that’s a nonsensical statement.

          1. I wish someone would make the first five of Nine Princes of Amber.

            1. THIS 1000 TIMES. Peter Jackson please

  4. Still annoyed at KMW for yesterday. Don’t try to placate us with deficit talk. 😛

    1. EOM

  5. I’ll be stockpiling scrap metal, weapon repair kits, pure water, and Sugar Bombs.

    1. it all comes down to weapons, ammo, medicines, liquor, and women of course.

      1. Well then I guess you’re fucked, double sphincter. You think weapons are for the authorities and couldn’t get a woman if you had a $10,000 bill* taped to the end of your tiny little pecker.

        *Timmeh and Teh Bernank are in the process of designing this new bill. They just can’t work out the scheduling with the White House for Obama’s portrait.

        1. As we used to say, back in junior high: “He couldn’t get laid if he were a floor tile.”

  6. While I vehemently disagree with what KM-W said, I still appreciate her frankness and look forward to seeing her byline on here for quite some time.

    Keep up the good work, KM-W. It is still greatly appreciated.

    1. But does she weigh the same as a duck?

      1. Maybe she just got pissed at us for all the variations we came up with for her nickname last week.

        Sorry for calling you Katherine Monkey-Ward. Can we all move forward now?

        1. There once was a girl named Mangu-Ward,
          who made her cable punditry most untoward.
          But sloopyinca cares not,
          for he considers her hawt,
          despite a Ron Paul win she insists we can’t afford.

          1. That’s like the worst limerick since I stopped posting limericks a while back.

            1. There once was a writer named Kate,
              Who talked of Ron Paul with much hate.
              But I’ll give her a pass
              Cause she has a pillowy ass
              Now it’s back to my bunk where I ‘bate.

              1. You both suck. Stop it.

                1. Yes but isn’t that the point of a limerick?

        2. Link to thread.

          Ward Cleaver

          And something about her nose.

          1. We’re prescient. I chew laurel leaves.

  7. W. R. Grace CORPORATION. Enough said?

    No. I leave you with a thought: When this commercial was made, Paul Ryan wasn’t even born yet.

    1. Paul Ryan was born in 1970 FOE.

      1. Paul Ryan was conceived in 1970, but not leave his mother’s womb until 1989.

        FACT PWN’D!

        1. Taking “living in moms basement” to extremes was he?

        2. Paul Ryan was conceived in 1970, but not leave his mother’s womb until 1989.

          Weirdly a similar event occurred in an Iain M banks Novel….although i think the time period was longer…40 years rather then 19.

          1. By the way this is further evidence that Paul Ryan is a member of Special Circumstances and a citizen of The Culture.

            1. Hey, a post-scarcity society? Where do I sign up?

              1. Hey, a post-scarcity society? Where do I sign up?

                Ummm the “society” of the Culture was created by “genefixing” multiple species and replacing all language with an artificial one…

                I am pretty sure tactics far worse then those applied by North Korea and by the Nazi’s during the holocaust were employed to manufacture what the Culture became.

            2. Nah.

              Whatever Special Circumstances agents may be on-planet, we don’t know about them.

              And if there were any here, I can’t believe they would’ve let things get so far into the shitter.

              1. The crazed behavior on this planet is actually totally unique. See, we’re reality programming for the rest of the civilized universe.

                1. The crazed behavior on this planet is actually totally unique. See, we’re reality programming for the rest of the civilized universe.

                  Greg Egan really is the best sci-fi writer alive today.

                  1. Niven did it way earlier…

                    I think it’s title was “War Movie”.

              2. They don’t fuck a fuck about us until we turn into good little apparatchiks like them.

                1. They don’t fuck a fuck about us until we turn into good little apparatchiks like them.

                  In “Inversion” there were special circumstances agents screwing around with society that could only be described medieval.

                  Plus there is a short story about Special Circumstances coming to Earth circa 1986. Sma was even in it.

                  1. Both examples to my point. They may come here and even manipulate us, but they aren’t going to reveal themselves until we are nearly commies or aggressively expansionist outside our immediate area.

        3. Paul Ryan was conceived in 1970

          … or WAS he — ?!?

    2. I think your maths are broken.

      1. Little known fact, the child prosecutor in that commercial was played convincingly by a young Charlton Heston in his first acting role. In subsequent ads, an adolescent Ryan Paul would eventually prosecute Heston’s generation for the “Airport” movies. True story.

  8. The good news is that $12 trillion in today’s dollars is only worth $6 trillion in 1986 dollars.

    1. Awesome, the deficit has only increased 200%, then.
      Carry on.

    2. The real beauty is that it took us 200 years to rack up $2 trillion in debt. But nowadays, we are close to adding that amount to the debt every fucking year.

      1. Actually it took about 200 years to get to one trillion (One of Reagan’s first acts a prez was to sign the bill raisinf the debt ceiling to that.

        What was fucked was that it then took just six years or so to get two two trillion.

        But in fairness to Reagan interest rates were really high those years, Actual spending growth really did get somewhat under control. When interest rates dropped in the late eighties growth of the debt slowed making Clinton look good when he inherited them.

        It took Dubya and Dubya II to get back to really explosive spending growth again.

        1. And they did it with low interest rates.

    3. You know you’re fucked when the fact that your currency has lost half its value is the good news.

  9. you blew it KWM, bad form on Fox-won’t be forgotten…did the Koch’s at least buy you lunch?

  10. As someone born in the late 60s I grew up never expecting a handout and assuming that federal entitlements would dry up. That is coming true rapidly and will affect not only my generation but likely the one before mine. I have been planning for this but many haven’t and the economy is going to pay the price (and, likely is already). The “greatest generation” spent the money, the “baby boomers” didn’t save, and now my generation will be paying the price. It’s funny how much this has played out as predicted over the last 30-50 years. Fortunately, a douchebag like Obama is going to be left holding the bag and there is some hope that statism will finally be denigrated and removed as a valid form of governing.

    1. You are an AGRICULTURAL-CITY STATIST. Admit it.

      1. Off white is civilizational (city-statist) construct, you must be willing to throw off you oppressive color designations and return to a state of nature.

        1. We should all live in tents made of animal skins we find and only collect what bounty mother nature provides for us. Anything beyond that is earthrape.

          1. Rex Grossman? Is that you?

        2. state of nature


          1. Look a bird.

  11. “By 1986, the national debt had reached 2 trillion dollars. Didn’t that scare you?” Another $12 trillion later, the adults remain speechless.”

    Yeah, that was a slippery slope argument back then too!

  12. For my apocalyptic dress, I prefer leather harnesses, codpiece, rubber neck protector and metal studs. And the mask.

    1. Acchh! Now, the kilt was only for day-to-day wear. In battle, we donned a full-length ball gown covered in sequins. The idea was to blind your opponent with luxury.

    2. Fingerless codpiece.

  13. Controversial.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    1. ^This.^

      It’s not like W.R. Grace was airing a commercial for, oh, say, an anti-impotence drug.

  14. This would be good to show to the GOP (with the Reagan-era context).
    Of course they can blame the Democratic Congress–but if they do that, then you can convince them that both parties suck.

    1. but if they do that, then you can convince them that both parties suck.

      I’m convinced. Where do I sign?

  15. God, I love Wikipedia. The place where “Stan Van Gundy was the recipient of a pubic hair transplant” remained for weeks now has a rather lulzy entry for KMW.

    The Paulbots control the interwebz!!!

    1. Hey if she knows the future I want to have a little chat about some Powerball winning numbers.

    2. Paul will add her to his enemies list when he takes office. Fortunately for her, he’ll find that he lacks the constitutional authority to do anything to his enemies. So he’ll simply look at the list, sigh, then go veto fifty bills at once.

    3. Dem wer sum good lulz

  16. “We don’t handle controversial subjects in advertisements.”

    Ha-haaaaaaaa, that’s a good one. The bullshit never really changes.

  17. BONK, BONK

    1. +1. For a long time I thought that actor was Bill Murray. I know, I know, into the corner, and with the Dunce Cap.

      1. Michael J. Pollard? Still showing up in roles, even today. He was in Scrooged a while back with another Star Trek guest star, the guy who ruled the Planet of the Romans (Logan Ramsey). Both were homeless guys.

        1. Speaking of Scrooged, Sam Kinison was originally cast in the Bob Goldthwait role.

  18. Serious question: if Paul secures the nomination, who do you guys think he will pick as his running mate? I’d be willing to bet it would be Paul Ryan or possibly Bachmann if he can get her to swear off some of that religious zealotry.


    1. I don’t see him tapping Bachmann. It would be funny if he chose Rand.

      1. tapping Bachmann? oh, come now.

        1. Sorry, I’ve got a little refractory period problem right now. Maybe not so little.

      2. I don’t see him tapping Bachmann.

        Thanks for the imagery…I think?

        1. He is almost 75, so we should cut him a little slack.

          1. I’m sure party elder Bob Dole could give him some advice.

    2. Gary Johnson would be the obvious choice.

      1. I can’t see the GOP letting that happen, and like it or not, they will play a huge role in who gets “tapped.”

        Besides, not enough electoral votes from NM to matter. What about John Kasich or that buttnut Mitch Daniels?

      2. Isn’t it bad luck to have a VP named Johnson?

          1. Oh wow! Van Buren’s veep was totally fucked up:

            “When she left him for another man, Johnson had her captured and sold at auction. He then began a relationship with her sister.”

            Those were the days!

            1. Then again, what do you expect from someone named Dick Johnson?

      3. The veep is supposed to be a counterbalance to the electoral weaknesses of the person at the top of the ticket. Gary Johnson doesn’t bring any more people into the fold.

        RP’s credentials are his straightforwardness and his deficit-cutting history; the weaknesses are being perceived as a nut and being “soft” on drugs, terror, and a bunch of other stuff. He would need someone who is absolutely not seen as a nut or fringe figure, and preferably is well-liked by conservative Christians for when the inevitable “heroin legalization” attack comes.

        Bachmann or Cain would fail the nut test, Romney and the like would fail to appease the sociocons. Pretty much every “mainstream” and Christian-popular possibility is a douche who would do everything possible to hamstring a Paul administration.

    3. His son would be a logical choice, but I think his son might be of greater use in the Senate. I could see a Gary Johnson as a possibility. Paul Ryan would give him the chance to engratiate himself with a GOP that I think would withold funding from his campaign unless he picked an establishment guy, but Paul Ryan would have to disown TARP and MCPartD to gain RP’s favor.

    4. He will choose me. No one can lock down the fat, disease-ridden pervert vote like I can.

      1. And that’s like half the electorate.

      2. *ahem*

        1. I think my record of nauseating perversion speaks for itself.

        2. F’off you useless Goldman Sachs refugee!

    5. How about Gillespie as Press Secretary? But only if The Jacket is worn at every press conference.

      1. The Jacket doesn’t do political appointments and I don’t think it will allow Nick to do so either.

    6. Sarah Palin!

      1. Only a deformed idiot would pick Sarah Palin as their running mate.

        1. Yeah! Only qualified, intelligent people should be considered for the Vice-Presidency!

    7. He’s said he would pick Judge Andrew Napolitano before.

  19. I wonder what Dan Rather and the CBS Ministry of Kultur would have said about a commercial depicting Paul Ryan shoving sweet ol’ Maw Kettle off a precipice.

  20. I actually was working for WR Grace at that time as a financial analyst (aka tree killer). Peter Grace used to ride the elevator packing some heat. I won’t discuss the terror that were board level rca’s.

  21. So we won’t take your ad for money, but we’ll put it on right here on the news ostensibly for free, with a warmup man? Had to be some payola in there.

  22. NYT financial ‘expert’: Oldthinkers unbellyfeel inflation.


    Harvard economist: Fed needs to increase money supply until we get 6% inflation.

    In a column in The Financial Times this week, Ken Rogoff, the Harvard economist, suggested central bankers consider “the option of trying to achieve some modest deleveraging through moderate inflation of, say, 4 to 6 percent for several years.”

    Mr. Rogoff conceded that “any inflation above 2 percent may seem anathema to those who still remember the anti-inflation wars of the 1970s and 1980s.”


    In an interview, Mr. Rogoff recalled how a parade of economists suggested to Japan that it seek to raise inflation to an announced target after its bubble burst, how Japan did nothing of the kind, and how it never really recovered. The Fed, he said, could make clear that it wanted some inflation and would buy Treasuries until it got that result.

    “It has to be open-ended,” he said of such a program, not limited to a certain dollar amount of bond purchases, and it needs to be connected to a stated inflation target. The Fed chairman, he said, could say that “If and when inflation starts rising above the path I am aiming for, we will taper back bond purchases and raise interest rates to rein it back in.”

    And while we’re reining it back in, we might as well abolish hurricanes and ban farting too.

    1. This notion that there is no inflation is another bunch of B.S. The price of almost everything I buy has skyrocketed over the last couple of years.

      All these guys are doing is trying to come up every rationalization they can to continue printing money and keeping interest rates near zero for the benefit of our insane, out of control government.

    2. No shit. His apparent belief that the Fed has a big machine with a dial on it that they can twist to control inflation is really kind of sad.

      1. That coupled with his inverted post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc argument about Japan’s financial crisis makes quite the logical pretzel.

        1. I wonder if this is what the Weimer guys were thinking? “We’ll just crank up that inflation dial a bit to take the harsh out of those war indemnity payments. Mein Gott, the mad device is out of control!”

          1. Reminds me of a scene from the Final Fantasy movie which I suffered through in agony. Partially because I’d just had a wisdom tooth extracted.

          2. Ironically, no. The French insisted on being paid in gold marks, which were not negotiable, over the paper marks the presses were printing. The German government couldn’t trick the rest of the world into accepting worthless paper in reparation repayments.

            The Weimar inflation was because the German government refused to deal with its over-staffing problem and continued to raise the salaries of its “workers” to keep up with inflation… which, of course, brought more inflation, and the “need” for another round of printing to pay those salaries. That’s one more reason I revel in the thought of government shutdown and cries of pain from the public parasites that would follow. If they insist we all need to “sacrifice for the greater common good” then I say let’s sacrifice them first!

    3. Why the fuck can’t we achieve deleveraging by just defaulting all the bad fucking debts? Wipe out equity and bondholders and then if necessary, print up whatever money it takes to make good on the FDIC-insured account. There, you’re deleveraged, done.

    4. Harvard economist: Fed needs to increase money supply until we get 6% inflation.

      In other words: Holders of dollars need to pay a 6 percent tax – they need to be robbed of 6 percent of their purchasing power.

  23. The Fed, he said, could make clear that it wanted some inflation and would buy Treasuries until it got that result.

    Earth to Rogoff!

    What the fuck do you think has been happening?

    1. “I hope you signed on for some inflation, because you’re going to get it.”

  24. W R Grace? The dudes who gave kids cancer?

  25. “Two TRILLION Dollars!”

    That put me in mind of Dr. Evil.

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