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Overnight Open Thread (2-17-2013) | Main | Monday Morning News Dump
February 18, 2013

The Sportsman's Guide to DOOM

DOOOOM

His Majesty the King can generate all kinds of euphemisms about how and why we're running up our nation's debt: "investing in the future", "borrowing from ourselves", "betting on the American worker". What we're really doing is stealing from our children and generations yet unborn. It might be different if we were actually building a better world for them to live in, but we're not: we're squandering the money like a drunken sailor on a three-day liberty. We've pissed all our own money away, and now we're pissing theirs away too, and on trifles. Vacations, new cars, fancy dinners, retirement living that we didn't save enough money for. It's child abuse of the rankest and worst sort. We're selling our own children and grand-children into debtor's prison. They're going to hate us for it, and they have a right to.

We're spending our children's money without giving them any say or vote in the process. We are promising their future labor, their future wealth, their future lives, to back up our own foolish debts. We are making their future lives meaner and smaller and more constrained because we could not govern ourselves properly. It makes me angry. It makes me furious. It makes me want to apologize to everyone under the age of twenty or so for what we are doing to them. We would do well to think about this: the young people will not simply obligingly labor forever as beasts of burden, content to pay the debts run up by their foolish elders. Sooner or later they'll grow wise, and tell the greybeards to go pound sand. There'll be a reckoning, and the geezers aren't going to like it one bit.

"Fiscal trouble ahead for most future retirees", frets the Washington Post. "Fiscal trouble ahead", indeed. That's like referring to pneumonic plague as a little tickle in the throat. Here's some grim numbers for you:

The consequence is that the nation is facing a huge retirement savings deficit as much as $6.6 trillion, or about $57,000 per household, according to a U.S. Senate report.

Using data on household finances collected by the Federal Reserve, the Center for Retirement Research estimates that 53 percent of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement. That marks a sharp deterioration since 2001, when 38 percent of Americans were at risk of declining living standards in old age. In 1989, 30 percent faced that risk.

My own feeling is that the whole concept of "retirement" is simply untenable and will either fade away or collapse abruptly (depending on what happens in the larger economy). It's a nice idea to take twenty or thirty years off at the tail-end of your life to travel and enjoy yourself, but it turns out that this really isn't sustainable when you have more retirees than workers. If you can save enough money during your working life to take it easy, then go ahead. Otherwise you'll have to keep doing what every other human being has had to do throughout human history. You'll have to get up every morning and go to work.

I wish I could budget the same way the government does. Step 1: I'll declare that I plan to spend a million dollars on a new summer home next year. Step 2: I'll check my bank account and realize that my large debt and two hundred dollar checking account won't support that kind of expenditure. Step 3: I'll declare the million-dollar-house project defunct. Step 4: I just saved a million dollars off of next year's budget! I'm an economics genius!

There's an old saying: success has a thousand fathers, but failure is always an orphan. (There's another one, more particular to this situation: Rats always desert a sinking ship.)

Democrats love to raise taxes...until the higher taxes apply to them, and then all of a sudden it's an outrage or something. (Remember: no one bothered to define who was "rich" and who wasn't, and that was deliberate. If you want higher taxes on "the rich", you can just keep defining down what "rich" means.)

European GDP takes a swan-dive into the potty. As someone or other said, the Eurozone situation is beginning to look like they sacrificed the patient to save the tumor.

The "red state vs blue state" metaphor never sat well with me. I've always thought it was really more "rural America versus urban America", and this piece provides some evidence for that claim. The liberalization of America has corresponded more or less exactly with the urbanization of America.

His Majesty the King is peddling a dangerous fantasy about the debt crisis. And yet...many of His Majesty's loyal subjects prefer sweet lies to harsh truth, which is why His Majesty is still sitting on the throne.


calico cat with blaze

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posted by Monty at 08:12 AM

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