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May 12, 2011

A hot cup of DOOM!, no cream, no sugar


Greg Mankiw links to a WSJ piece about our negative bequest to our children. It's a point I've made many times myself (and am sometimes accused of bashing the elderly because of this). A good quote from the WSJ piece:

[R]egardless of how much they have contributed, the hard reality is that the federal government has already spent it. No matter how deserving they are, it is younger generations of workers who have to come up with the money.

It is morally wrong to force young people to make good on false promises made before they were even born. It is an outrage, a scandal, a shame on our society. A society that invests in the old at the expense of (actually, to the large detriment of) the young cannot survive. A caring and kind society cares for the weak and elderly and helpless; a dynamic and just society allows the young to grow and prosper on their own merits. If America is to prosper as a nation, the young must be given room to build families and careers. To build lives, without the onerous, crushing burden of debt run up by their forebears.

Never mind questions of ethics or "fairness": it's just math. The numbers do not, cannot, and will not ever even up, no matter what accounting tricks the government uses. Until we fundamentally change how the Big Three entitlement programs (SS, Medicare, Medicaid) work, we will continue to load up our young people with a crippling load of debt they had no hand in accruing.

How boned is California? In California, a lifeguard -- a lifeguard -- can make $200K annually and retire at 50 with a full pension worth 90% of his full-time pay.

Speaking of California, senior member of the Loyal Order of the Terminally Boned (LOTB): The average age for public-sector retirement is...60. While still younger than the national average, this "average" is misleading; an outsized number of CA public-sector employees retire at 55 or even 50 with full benefits.

More on the (possible) bursting of the "education bubble": Is College A Rotten Investment? (Yeah, it's a Slate link, but work with me here.) I don't think that college is always a waste of time and money of course; but I think that probably 50% or maybe 60% of the enrolled student body right now shouldn't be there. College is not only not doing them much good; it's actually doing them harm, both in terms of debt and in terms of opportunity cost.

Beware of Greeks blaming speculators. (I have this mental image of some politician doing a Shatner-esque primal scream: SPEEEEECUUUUUULAAAAAATORS!)

What is an ounce of gold really worth? The short answer is: it's worth whatever you can buy with it. Historically, gold is high but not hysterically so; it's the dollar that has tanked. It takes a lot of dollars to buy gold.

Democrats are in love with a girl named Rosy Scenario. Most of their fiscal projections are predicated on robust GDP growth over the next decade and a substantially-higher tax-regime. How likely is this scenario to come to pass? Not very. Over-regulation and excessive taxation will kill the private-sector economic growth that America needs to grow GDP substantially.

You know who's DOOMed? Mitt Romney, that's who. RomneyCare was bad enough, but Mitt's unwillingness or inability to recognize it for the disaster it is will kill him in the 2012 election if the GOP is stupid enough to trot him out there.

Retired GM executives sue for lost pension benefits. Obama only cares if you're in a union, guys. Don't look for any help there. Also: there's no money. You remember that old saying, "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip?" GM is a turnip.

[UPDATE 1]: Bob Saget reminds me in the comments that today's Treasury bond auction will officially put the US over its debt-limit. Feel the burn!

[UPDATE 2]: Slublog reminds me that Uncle Sugar's bailout of GM really hasn't provided the kind of corporate stability and growth the government was hoping for.

You talkin' to me, punk? You must be talkin' to me, 'cause there ain't no one else here....

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posted by Monty at 09:17 AM

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