Debt and Deficits

Americans Are Not Serious About Government Debt

Every politician knows when it comes to the budget, people can accept being lied to. It's the truth they can't abide.

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Money
Pen Waggener / Flickr

The gross U.S. government debt now stands at $17 trillion, more than double what it was a decade ago. It's still expanding, as the Treasury Department pays out more than it takes in, and the shortfall is expected to grow over the next decade. So it's deeply gratifying to learn that Americans are "highly concerned" about the problem.

That finding comes from the latest monthly Fiscal Confidence Index, compiled by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. "Fully eight in 10 voters (81 percent) say that the president and Congress should spend more time addressing the issue, including six in ten (62 percent) who believe they should be spending a lot more time on it."

Michael Peterson, president of the foundation, says, "It's clear that voters recognize that our nation's long-term fiscal challenges remain, and want Washington to deal with it."

He's right, of course. Americans do want Washington to bring the budget under control. The catch is that they have no idea what it would take—and reject the steps that would be needed. They want it in the same way they want to be thin, rich and well informed: only if the goal can be achieved with no effort.

The Peterson Foundation is serious about fiscal responsibility, and you can't blame its people for trying to suggest that Americans share its goal. But the poll is more depressing than encouraging. What it makes blindingly obvious is that when it comes to the federal budget, most voters don't have a clue.

Respondents were asked, "When it comes to addressing our national debt, would you say things in the United States are heading in the right direction or do you think things are off on the wrong track?" Only 23 percent say "right direction."

What would the right direction be? A deficit that is shrinking instead of growing. But the deficit has been shrinking—dramatically. Peaking at over $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2009, it will be less than half that size this year and smaller yet next year.

It's hard to make the argument that this shrinkage represents the wrong direction. But that's what most Americans, mystifyingly, believe.

Saying that Congress and the president should spend more time on the national debt is not quite the same as saying they should take serious steps to contain it, much less reduce it. No one will suffer any tangible loss if our leaders spend more time on these matters instead of pointless speeches or silly resolutions. Actually solving the problem, however, demands that some people give up benefits or pay higher taxes. Neither option elicits long lines of eager volunteers.

In the abstract, voters endorse tough fiscal decisions. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 73 percent blame the deficit on "spending too much money on federal programs that are either not needed or wasteful." But they have enormous difficulty identifying the programs that are too big.

A survey last year by the Pew Research Center asked Americans whether they favored spending cuts in 19 specific areas—including defense, the environment, unemployment, Social Security, education, law enforcement and veterans' benefits. In none of the 19 did most people want to spend less.

The sole category for which a plurality of citizens was willing to reduce outlays is "aid to world's needy." On average, people estimate foreign aid eats up 28 percent of the federal budget. In fact, it accounts for 1 percent, which means that even abolishing it entirely would have a tiny effect on the red ink.

Even when they get the chance to make small trims across a range of programs, voters get cold feet. After automatic cuts in discretionary outlays took effect in March 2013, Gallup asked citizens whether these were "a good thing or a bad thing for the country." Just 17 percent said "good thing."

Liberals may take this response to mean Americans would rather pay more in taxes than get less in benefits. In fact, Gallup has found that only 11 percent want to close the budget gap mostly or entirely by raising taxes.

Americans, in short, are willing to do anything to cut the deficit and restrain the debt except what needs to be done. They overwhelmingly prefer bogus remedies to real ones and magical thinking to reality.

Every politician knows when it comes to the budget, people can accept being lied to. It's the truth they can't abide.

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  1. This isn’t going to end well.

    1. Chapman has a gift for writing stupid shit.

      It’s hard to make the argument that this shrinkage represents the wrong direction. But that’s what most Americans, mystifyingly, believe.

      What is mystifying is that Chapman apparently so stupid that he doesn’t see the long term trends, the unsustainable welfare programs, and the huge and ever increasing size of government as “the country going in the wrong direction” and apparently thinks going from an unimaginable deficit to just a stupendously huge one makes up for all that.

      The voters only seem mystifying to Chapman because apparently most things do.

      In the abstract, voters endorse tough fiscal decisions. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 73 percent blame the deficit on “spending too much money on federal programs that are either not needed or wasteful.” But they have enormous difficulty identifying the programs that are too big.

      and

      “Fully eight in 10 voters (81 percent) say that the president and Congress should spend more time addressing the issue, including six in ten (62 percent) who believe they should be spending a lot more time on it.”

      Perhaps those two things are related. Maybe people don’t know what needs to be cut and expect Congress to do its fucking job and figure that out? Just a thought.

      Chapman is remarkable and not in a good way.

      1. My thoughts exactly on voters wanting cuts in the abstract – nobody, including every writer at every blog on the planet – knows the totality of the fed budget. Moreover, why is it my fucking job as a “free” citizen to care; I said cut it, so cut it.

        The real problem is the nature of the fed govt – it lacks any mechanism for course correction.

        1. Agree with you on all but one point, the Federal Government in fact has several perfect mechanisms for course corrections; elections and the constitutional amendment process to name a few. What we do lack are politicians who have the balls and perseverance to take on hard problems and make hard decisions. Together with an uneducated public we have the perfect conditions for a republic going the way of Rome.

      2. Yeah, when you take into consideration that the record-high annual budget deficit prior to 2009 was ~450 billion dollars, you can understand why it would be concerning that it’s still almost double that, even though it’s down from the stratospheric highs it hit in the last 5 years. It probably wouldn’t be “mystifying” for a board of directors to be concerned about a company’s financial position if its net revenue was 10 million in the red and it had a billion dollars in maturing bonds, even if the previous year’s net revenue was 15 million in the red.

        The rest he gets exactly right. I’ve said the same thing over and over again when Reason trots out its Pollyannaish poll data biannually to demonstrate the libertarian revolution is at hand. People want the federal budget relatively in balance, as long as not a nickel of spending ever gets cut for anything they like. Unfortunately, the biggest drivers of debt are the things everybody really, really, really likes. You can’t balance the budget taking away your neighbor’s handouts – they’re largely the same ones you enjoy and find too sacrosanct to ever consider cutting. (Cue a chorus of “I EARNED MUH SOCIAL SECURITY!!!!!”)

        1. I think the “the deficit is shrinking!” crowd might be jumping the gun. The deficit is shrinking because the economy is, all government attempts to prevent it notwithstanding, recovering. With a recovering economy those near 0% interest rates we’ve been enjoying for the past half decade on our T Bills will be gone. I’ll bet we’re gonna see 4% (the historical average rate on 10 year treasury bonds),and maybe higher soon. THAT is going to make our debt servicing gobble up the lion’s share of the budget. Just going back to “normal” interest rates would cause the our interest payments by themselves to be trillions of dollars. And just think that our national debt interest averaged 18% for a few years in the 1980’s…

  2. This is the way the republic ends.
    This is the way the republic ends.
    This is the way the republic ends.
    Not with a bang, but a call for free stuff.

    1. + Thunderous applause.

  3. “But they have enormous difficulty identifying the programs that are too big.”

    I dont.

    1. Neither do I. But most people are not dorks who follow the news or deranged retards like Shreek. They understand there is a problem but don’t claim to know how to solve it. They are foolishly naive enough to think that maybe their elected leaders should do their fucking jobs and start offering solutions.

      1. ……or deranged retards like Shreek.

        The deranged retards called…they vigorously object to being compared to the presidential fellatialist.

    2. I dont.

      All of them.

      Emperor LFOD’s method of course would be to cut all programs by half for the first year. Cut the remainder by half the second year. Same for the third, then the fourth.

    3. http://www.allianceplanning.ne…..es-pay-for

      Pretty easy to pick out some winners (or losers?). Cut/kill medicare/aid, defense, SS, subsidies! Who will vote for me?

      Oh well, I should probably start buying gold.

      1. Oh well, I should probably start buying gold.

        A troy ounce of gold is running around $1,300/ozt. Imagine going to buy groceries with $1000 bills. I advise stocking silver, plus other commodities that tend to retain value when times get “back to nature.” Cases of canned goods you already like to eat, brass, lead, powder and primers. And what are those launcher thingies called? Two or three kinds of those.

  4. Simpson-Bowles is the only serious attempt to address this problem and both parties killed it. When Coburn and Durbin agree on something it should be put to a full vote. But it was the House members from both parties that blew it.

    1. Re: Peter Caca,

      Simpson-Bowles is the only serious attempt to address this problem and both parties killed it.

      No, it wasn’t. It would only serve to delay the inevitable, plus the plan was laden with tax increases that would only serve to transfer capital from productive endeavors to the DC black hole.

      1. Tax rates are flattened under S-B. The top rate was reduced to 26% iirc. Entitlements were cut.

        Since people like you won’t compromise we are doomed to fiscal failure.

        1. Re: Peter Caca,

          Tax rates are flattened under S-B. The top rate was reduced to 26% iirc. Entitlements were cut.

          Read the plan again. It would raise taxes on middle-to-low income Americans. The tax bracket was supposed to be “capped” at 27% in one variant of the plan but with deductions galore being eliminated. That’s a tax increase for many Americans. It also increases taxes on gasoline, tax capital gains as “ordinary income” (another tax increase). All of this only serves to increase the revenue of the Federal Government but that does not mean the government will suddenly keep its side of the bargain and cut spending.

          The SB plan starts with the assumption that, somehow, the problem of the US is not enough revenue. This is Tony-esque logic. It’s no different than the wife telling the husband that he should bring in more bacon because she can’t pay for her lifestyle, but that she promises not to spend so much if he does. That’s no compromise, Caca.

          1. This is correct. The government solution to every government created problem is always a few more truckloads of money.

            The problem is that no matter what you cut, you’re cutting it from someone who is getting it. That makes you a cruel, heartless bastard. Whether it’s benefits or exemptions, you’re taking it away from some probably incredibly large group of people.

            As far as paying more to get things in order, paying more always ends in government spending more, it never pays down debt, nothing ever actually gets cut, republicans might dump democrat programs, but they’ll just spend that and more on republican programs, ditto for the democrats.

            1. Paying more will never solve the problem because there is nothing more addictive than free money. Tax money is free to the people who spend it. The more money you send them, the more money they will spend.

  5. A survey last year by the Pew Research Center asked Americans whether they favored spending cuts in 19 specific areas?including defense, the environment, unemployment, Social Security, education, law enforcement and veterans’ benefits. In none of the 19 did most people want to spend less.

    The results should tell you that the regular voters are not really serious about reining in spending or the debt. The problem will indeed fix itself through a financial catastrophe and not through sheer political will, as Peter Schiff once wrote a few months ago. No politician is going to stick his or her head out of the trench to have it shot. Politicians and voters will continue to vacillate until the dollar becomes worthless, when fools finally wise up and stop propping up the US government by buying its debt.

    1. That is an idiotic poll and it doesn’t mean what Chapman thinks it does. If I ask you in isolation “so Old Mexican what do you think about cutting (insert Mexican’s sacred cow here)?” Of course you are going to say no. That however, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t live with cutting that if it were in the context of solving the overall fiscal problems.

      A better way to have asked the question would have been “Would you support cutting spending for your sacred cow if doing so were necessary to properly address the nation’s budget and debt problem”. I will bet the answer to that would be a lot different than the answer to the first question.

      Chapman is just stupid and a sloppy writer and a sloppy thinker. The numbers he gives shows that voters are serious but that they have no idea how to solve the problem because their leaders have so badly let the country down by not offering one.

      1. Re: John,

        That however, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t live with cutting that if it were in the context of solving the overall fiscal problems.

        Probably. But most voters are single-issue persons when the time comes to cast their vote. I would not dismiss that poll.

        1. No they are not. Most voters are rightfully cynical and figure any money saved cutting their sacred cow will just be stolen by someone else rather than used to pay down the debt. Voters are perfectly rational and have, considering past events, a cynical view of government and politicians. Why agree to a cut you don’t agree with if you don’t think it will result in lowering the debt?

        2. It is hard not to agree with the idea that people vote for the person they perceive as the most moral or “best” person. Since the prevailing morality in the country is altruism–the idea that each of us is morally obligated to take care of those with less than we have–this translates into people voting for the most altruistic–the person ready to enforce the prevailing morality with the force of government–in other words redistribution the wealth of the productive to the non-productive, along with more concomitant statism and wars, too, BTW.

          Until the prevailing morality is changed, the country will not address the overall issue concerning the proper role and size of government and the debt issue will not be addressed in a meaningful and long range way.

          1. There is none other thing that will change it David, if people lose faith in government such they no longer think government is capable of solving problems. Most voters don’t give a lot of thought to these issues and generally have enough faith in government to think that the government spending money on a problem at least does some good even if it doesn’t solve it. If people totally lose faith in government, they won’t believe that anymore. And if they don’t think government spending will do any good, the appeals to altruism won’t work. Sure I want to help but the government is corrupt and incompetent” will be the answer. This is why things like the VA and IRS scandals are such bad news for Progs even if they manage to somehow save Obama’s sorry ass from them. Regardless of how it works out for Obama, they make people cynical of government and less receptive to Prog appeals to altruism.

            1. Perhaps. And a general loss of faith in government, may delay further deterioration of the republic, thus giving time for a revolution in the moral foundation that people take for granted.

              All people have a morality they follow, but you are right, most do not think about it. They just accept what everyone else seems to believe. Destroying altruism as a moral precept is, however, the only way for lasting and permanent change. I am not primarily against religion, but altruism emanates from religion, and most people still look to religion as the source of morality in this country. It has been our achilles heel.

              1. Then why is this problem even worse in less-religious countries?

                1. Let me take a wild guess at his answer: “why, that’s just one of the lingering cultural trappings of a formerly religious country!”

              2. This is completely false. Altruism is a byproduct of hardwired empathy, which has been scientifically proven to exist even in non-human animals as relatively simple as mice. (Besides, if altruism came from religion, then you have the problem of where the altruism codified within religion came from. And since religion is man-made…)

              3. That is simply stupid. The religious do their altruistic acts outside of the govs reach.

                You are against religion asserting something this stupid (btw not religious) so your bs is suspect at best.

  6. “When it comes to addressing our national debt, would you say things in the United States are heading in the right direction or do you think things are off on the wrong track?” Only 23 percent say “right direction.”

    What would the right direction be? A debt that is shrinking instead of growing. And the debt has been growing?dramatically.

    Fixed that for you.

  7. It’s obviously unsustainable, especially when part of the spend the future brigade’s assumption is that we’ll return to normal growth rates. This is unlikely if the spending continues and we see an increasingly arbitrary and unlimited government continuing to block innovation and distort (or outright destroy) markets.

    1. The real threat is the regulatory state. We could damn near afford the welfare state if the regulatory state would stop strangling the economy. If you could get the regulatory foot off of the economy’s neck, it would be a lot easier and a lot less painful to solve the welfare problem if nothing else.

      1. You mean allowing people to engage in economic activity without asking permission and obeying orders?

        But, but, but then businesses would kill their customers!

        Next you’re going to say a little girl should be allowed to run a lemonade stand, right?

        How can we know it’s really lemonade unless she’s asked permission from government and then obeyed their orders? Huh? How? It could be poison!

        1. “How can we know it’s really lemonade unless she’s asked permission from government and then obeyed their orders? Huh? How? It could be poison!”
          funny thing about that line of logic, you can poison it anyways even with government permission.
          same line of logic applies to ALL licenses

      2. I’ve often wondered why lefties don’t favor a free market to make all of the money they could steal for welfare purposes. Then I realized that welfare to them is a means, not an end.

        What would our economy look like in this technological age if we were much more free market than not? Could we double GDP? Bet we could at least approach that.

        1. I wondered that too. Then I realized it was because they are retarded and live in a fantasy land where there are no tradeoffs.

        2. Lefties have no understanding of economics. They think that when a business makes money it’s stealing from its workers and its customers. Besides that, in a free market economy people are allowed to get rich, and that just isn’t fair. That’s why they want everything run by government. To them creating wealth and printing money are the same thing, because they don’t understand the difference between money and wealth. And they like it that way because it justifies their jealousy and envy.

          1. My wife ordered a movie the other night and I forced myself to watch Elysium.

            The entire premise for the movie is that the economy is zero-sum.

            Unfuckingbelievable.

            1. “It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred from one perception to another.”
              -Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

              1. Okay, so how is it modern society has so much wealth–not the money, but all of the goods, property, and services–in comparison to past societies?

                1. Okay, so how is it modern society has so much wealth–not the money, but all of the goods, property, and services–in comparison to past societies?

                  You didn’t build that!

                2. Geck was ludicrously wrong. Remember, he was a character in a Hollywood movie, not a real Wall Street Financier.

            2. All we have to do is get into Amerika they have the magic to heal you for free……
              Elysium was fucking retarded and way too political to be a decent movie

            3. Listen, the ultimate trajectory of capitalism is all the wealth of the world going to one person.

              Duh. That’s science.

            4. Not surprising, coming from a writer/director who delivered the fantasy-masquerading-as-scifi film District 9.

              “I’ll write a film that comments on the evils of apartheid through the use of an oppressed alien race… that’s a good idea!

              “Well, I’ve done my thinking for a while. I’ll just finish the script off with a cartoonishly evil villain, a magic alien suit, alien creatures with human body language, and some gobbledygook about Prawn DNA having the capability to transform a human being–a completely alien creature–into a Prawn while simultaneously leaving the human’s mind intact. SCIENCE FICTION!”

  8. Politicians and voters will continue to vacillate until the dollar becomes worthless, when fools finally wise up and stop propping up the US government by buying its debt.

    Meh. Federal Reserve’s Xerox has been on 50ppm buying a plurality, if not majority, of U.S. sovereign debt the past few years. That’s where the fools come in, fools all around the world – they are buying debt with the dollars in their pocket whether they want to or not.

  9. Deficits by the year.

    2013: $680 billion
    2012: $1,087 billion
    2011: $1,300 billion
    2010: $1,294 billion
    2009: $1,413 billion
    2008: $458 billion
    2007: $161 billion
    2006: $248 billion
    2005: $318 billion
    2004: $413 billion
    2003: $377 billion
    2002: $157 billion

    Obama cut the deficit in half!

  10. The Fed is a dictatorship of dangerous Cool-Aid drinkers

    The Fed is a dictatorship of dangerous Cool-Aid drinkers. To every question about obvious structural failures in the US economy such as the drastic rise long-term unemployment and labor force dropouts and the anemic level of business investment in future productivity and growth ?which has been at deeply sub-historical levels since 2000? Yellen had a ritualistic response: All the bad stuff is due to the fact that the cyclical path of the US economy has fallen short of the DSGE prediction for 5 years running, but all those failures will automatically fix themselves once the economy gets back on the Fed’s perpetually limp hockey stick!

    The Fed has turned New Agey! Kumbaya!

  11. No need to worry, the china government debt stands at $22 trillion.

  12. last summer my wife and I had lunch with my mother and a friend of hers, both women in their 70’s. Both are life-long self-identified conservative Republicans. We talked about federal spend and the debt, and all agreed the situation was bad. My mother and friend identified the budget-busting expenditures as being Congressional salaries and junkets. We wife and I were pretty astonished, and tried to explain that social security, medicare and DoD make up the vast majority of the budget, and that government operations accounted for next to nothing in the grand scheme of things. Their minds were blown, especially when I followed up with pie charts of the budget and federal tax sources. So yeah, people have no clue and are unwilling to have any of their “free” money withdrawn.

    1. Everyone wants to cut government, just not the part that benefits them or anyone they care about.

      1. There is no part of it I would have trouble cutting. I have made certain that I have minimal contact with them in any way. I take no money from them and wouldn’t if they were begging me to take it. I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I would be perfectly happy if they did not know I exist.

        I would list the programs/departments I would cut, but I don’t have three days to spend typing.

        1. hahaha ^this
          Abolish ALL special interest programs
          and withdraw from the UN.
          close the foreign bases and bring ALL our troops home

    2. How could they have been so far off in judging the scale of things? You’d think they thought there were only maybe a few hundred people in the whole country, so that some Congressional junket would be comparable to those other expenditures.

  13. In order to further cripple the economy the chocolate jesus is doubling down on the climate change boondoggle. That really could be the last straw.

    I hear lots of rumors that the reason L.L.’s emails disappeared is because in them she is discussing how to prosecute individuals in the TEA party movement. Now I see obumbles calling out people who have been calling him out as a film-flam man ( climate change deniers he calls them) and I wonder how long before he will try to prosecute them.

    The proggy movement is pure fascism. If they had their way we would be indistinguishable from you know who.

    1. No response to this?

      Anyone who posts here who thinks they aren’t on a list of people they want to send to a camp is fooling themselves.

      1. I think that fascists are ALSO racists/nationalists. I thought that fascists are like a combination of the worst of the left and right, and libertarianism is the best of the left and right (according to me).

        Fascism is sort of hard to nail down for me, but I found this:

        http://www.reddit.com/r/explai…..5_fascism/

        1. I believe that what I’ve seen is pretty much communists.

          1. Sorry to keep replying to myself, but I imagine communism may revert to fascism once resources are depleted, and homophily becomes more of a factor.

  14. Hey Reason guys –

    Why don’t you print up little wallet cards with pie-charts of the budget and tax sources? That would be a nice thing to carry around to use in arguments.

    1. Because facts don’t matter when the person you are arguing with is arguing from emotion.

      1. This.

        Yesterday a proggy acquaintance told me she wanted a living wage because she feeeeeeels stuff.

        I said you can’t use emotions in a math problem. She said she didn’t care, she felt stuff.

        1. My father feels that there should be a maximum allowed income, and that 100% tax on income above that arbitrary level can be used to provide a minimum living wage for everyone. As if someone making above that maximum wage is going to demand a raise so they can give it all to the government. It’s idiotic, but it feels right. And there’s no convincing him otherwise.

          1. That is…..uh…….I am at a loss for words.

          2. So everyone would therefore have an incentive to only be just so productive, then stop. That’s a particularly galling thought when it comes to entrepreneurs–how much risk are you going to take if there’s a cap on your potential success?

            1. No, you don’t get it. No one’s behavior will change. The rich will continue to make millions and millions of dollars and happily hand it all over to the government so people who don’t work can have a guaranteed income. There’s no such thing as incentives. That’s just capitalist dogma.

              1. That sure worked well in the Soviet Union.

                1. It did work well until Reagan came along and forced them into bankruptcy with all the defense spending. The only difference is that here the Jewish bankers control everything, so we were able to survive the mounting debt. They couldn’t. If it wasn’t for the Jewish bankers then we would have gone bankrupt first, and then adopted the clearly superior communist system.

                  1. Okay, so there are real people who think such things?

                    1. I was exaggerating on the last comment, but yeah. Pretty much. Communism was superior because it didn’t allow capitalist to get rich by ripping off their workers and customers. Instead of concentrating the wealth among a few rich people, it spread it out equally to everyone. So that makes it morally superior to capitalism, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

          3. Ask your father to do this exercise. Identify his maximum income he would allow. Identify someone he might know that makes more than this amount.

            Then ask your father to go to that person and ask him for that amount of money himself–that the giver should feel morally obligated to give it to him. If he is unwilling to do this, point out the cowardice in asking a government agency to do this for him.

            I’m guessing your father is really not a coward or a chickenshit, so this might work. Make your arguments personal like this, and sometimes you might be surprised by the results.

            1. I will not talk politics or economics with him. Last time I did we didn’t speak with each other again for most of a year.

              1. I get it. My sister, whom I dearly love in all other respects, has been an academic and a liberal for over 40 years (since college). She was all for the ACA. I used a variant of this argument with her–asked her to go to a neighbor and demand health care for someone else–in good humor, and as jokingly as I could muster, but still make the point.

                She did not admit to changing her mind, but she definitely lost the moral indignation in her voice when she advocated for the ACA after that. In other words, I won the moral argument.

                And these issues are moral arguments at their very root.

                1. “she definitely lost the moral indignation in her voice when she advocated for the ACA after that”

                  So, your sister (I feel wrong talking about your family b/c I don’t know her or you – but) realized that the argument for the ACA is immoral – and continues to advocate for it? That’s too, too bad.

                  Adn you are absolutely correct – it is, and most of the “hot topics” on Reason are, moral issues. People on here talk about how we’re nerds or wonks or “weird” because we follow political issues, and believe in freedom with conviction, and care about whether it’s being done or not – like it’s some diversion like RC cars or video games or chess. NO.

                  People like “us” here are serious enough about our beliefs and checking that goodness is being done (or not), to put ourselves through the torture of reading nut-punches every day, and being eternally frustrated with every political candidate, and being socially ostracized for our “cruel” beliefs when we know its the “nice” programs that are truly evil – because we care more about freedom and morality than most people.

                  Everyone should remember that next time they feel they have to joke or pull punches with someone who is advocating something like the ACA, or the NSA, etc. THEY should be embarassed about THEIR beliefs, or their stupidity for not thinking it through all the way – not you.

              2. With respect to your dad, a maximum percentage of your average workers pay would be a good compromise with the min wage flunkies
                that way there is incentive to work hard still and incentive to pay well across the board because it only allows for you to make more money.
                where as W= average worker pay E= employer max pay

                so W x 1000% = E
                mcdonalds would be
                7.25 x 1000% = 725,000 a year
                and if he paid his employees more he could just make more in the end

              3. Not trying to one up you, but, I finally had a discussion about politics and the economy with my father. And within a couple weeks of it he was dead. Maybe the realization after so many years of disagreement that we actually agreed with each other on something was just too much to bear.

          4. I’m starting to get that this sort of liberal is short-sighted and doesn’t understand incentives/disincentives and its affect on human nature.

            1. They understand incentives when they work on things they want to change. eg: Raising taxes so a millionaire pays an extra 100K won’t cause him to cut back on his work or investing, but raising sales tax by a nickel on a Big Gulp will cause everyone in New York to lose 20 pounds.

          5. He apparently thinks some high-income people make money involuntarily. They can’t help it, it just comes to them. And I think that’s not so rare a perception.

    2. Yep. Whip one of those out at the local bar/restaurant/family reunion/conversation at a party and watch your circle of friends grow and women line up to worship you. Or you could become a social pariah.

      1. I don’t talk politics or economics at work or with family because I don’t want to be ostracized.

        1. ^^This^^
          Besides that, I’m not being paid to stir up trouble and cause hurt feelings. I’m pretty sure that’s cause for termination. Uh, which it should be.

  15. pay more taxes or take cuts in benefits? how about responsible tax dollar spending? billions sent overseas but the little people are supposed to sacrifice while the ruling class sacrifices nothing…BULLSHIT

  16. It doesn’t help when most of our “deficit hawks” complain about funny-sounding programs that cost a few million (ahem McCain) and trimming tiny bits off the big social programs while insisting in the next breath that the defense budget needs to increase by many dozens of billions.

    The US Gov’t debt is never going to get “under control”. Too many people are getting rich because of the debt (and I don’t mean poor people receiving welfare or seniors receiving prescription drugs).

  17. But, but, but we MUST throw bazillions of $$$ at global warming or we’ll all die!! Even though we’re well into the second half of June and it’s still dumping snow here in my little corner of America.

    1. Do you happen to live in Alaska?

      1. Northwest Montana.

        1. Yeh, JG? Schweitzer fan?

          1. I’m a fan of Summer. The hotter the better.

            1. Puns are the foundation, not the lowest, etc…right?

            2. Might I suggest moving to south Texas?

          2. Schweitzer is a douche, always has been. Less of of a douche than Hillary but there’s that faint praise thing.

  18. What’s your point….

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