No Cure For Stupid
Posted by Euroranger on November 12, 2012
As I mentioned last week, I wanted to take a few days to digest the recent election activity and then comment on it. I’ll spare you all from a rant and tirade about how the election turned out, who did underhanded what to whom and so on and so forth. You can find those a dime a dozen on the intarwebz and I strive to deliver a somewhat fresh (or at least different perspective) on not so much what happened but what it will mean to our country. To that end, after a week of somewhat erratic contemplation, I have come to two conclusive opinions:
1./ The decline of the American Republic is at hand – Well, THAT sounds all doom and gloomy, doesn’t it? Exactly the kind of bombast you’d expect from some dyed in the wool, hard core conservative, right? Well, my assertion is based on history and not partisan politics. I don’t really care who won the election…what I care about is who was elected, what those people have demonstrated over the past several years and what it means to America’s future. What I’m talking about, of course, is our national debt. Currently, the national debt stands at (get this) $16,260,696,626,397.55. I kid you not. I got that figure from here. Said in plain English that’s “sixteen trillion, two hundred sixty billion, six hundred ninety six million, six hundred twenty six thousand, three hundred ninety seven dollars and fifty five cents”. However, by the time you read that number out loud it was already obsolete by nine million additional dollars or so. Yep, we here in the United States pile up debt by the assload like nobody else. Anyway, everyone knows (or thinks they do) that the debt is one big ass number, right? Well, it is and most people think it’s always been this big. But the word “big” in this context has dramatically changed over the past 5 years. This year, we’ll add another $1.5T or so in new debt. Prior to President Obama taking over though, our deficits were more in the neighborhood of 200 to 400 billion per year. Truly bad numbers back then to be sure…but those numbers are less than 1/3 of what we’re doing these days. Go back even further to the last time Congress claimed to get serious about controlling the debt and budget deficits and you see deficits of less than $200B per year. Just so we’re clear: days where we ran deficits around $200B = shit’s serious enough to enact legislation to try and control Congress spending like a drunk sailor on shore leave. Days where our deficits are more than 6 times that much = meh, who cares (aka: “today”).
Since you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering: how does this equal the decline of the American Republic? It’s not complicated but it does require understanding how the process for funding our debt works and accepting that history has a tendency to repeat itself. Our debt is funded by our treasury issuing something called “T-bills” or treasury bills. The government makes such bills available for purchase and buyers of those bills receive a guaranteed modest amount of interest on their investment. That means that for every dollar the government borrows, it ends up paying like $1.10 or so which is the original debt plus the t-bill’s interest. Governments, private firms, banks and individual investors buy t-bills because their return is guaranteed. However, “guaranteed” is the sticky point here. Every country issues debt bonds (t-bills) to fund their debts, public works projects, etc. Every entity that issues such a debt bond receives a debt rating from several international ratings agencies. This is basically nothing more than an assessment of the risk of that issuing country making good on their guarantee to repay. For countries that’s called their “credit rating”. On August 5 of 2011, for the first time in the history of our country, our credit rating was reduced by first one then all the major rating agencies from AAA (outstanding) to AA+ (excellent). The reason this happened was explained as two main reasons: our debt to revenue ratio and our political gridlock (Dems and Repubs not playing nice together). In short, what the international ratings agencies said to investors worldwide was “while we still like America as an investment, they’re not as solid as they used to be and they don’t appear to have a plan to improve the situation”.
What does this have to do with the American Republic? Just this: we just re-elected both a president and a Congress who, collectively, have added somewhere north of SIX TRILLION DOLLARS IN NEW DEBT IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS. Re-elected. That means, that despite the fact that we all supposedly knew how bad the debt was, we still returned the same buffoons who have proved they can’t and won’t control their spending. Alright, you might say, but still…what does that have to do with the health of the Republic? Just this: the only real parallel we have to historically compare ourselves with is the Roman Republic that disappeared in 27 B.C. when the Roman Senate granted exceptional ruling powers to one man (Octavian) who proclaimed himself Augustus and became, in essence, a Roman emperor. To understand why this happened and why it’s a parallel to our situation you only need to know the the Roman Republic was experiencing many of the same types of pressures we are today:
– rapid expansion from a small entity to a large, world spanning nation (the United States only really became the world spanning nation in 1945 after the end of WW2)
– both nations maintained large, well funded armies (Rome because they were conquering the world, ours because we can no longer allow Europe the luxury of fighting amongst themselves every other generation now that we have atomic weapons) that placed a drain on the nation’s finances
– both nations polarized into conservative and popular (liberal) factions where the former derived power from the elite class while the latter looked to the lower classes for support, dividing the people and classes into what seemed like warring factions
– both experienced eras of huge social upheaval. For Rome it was the importation of millions of slaves who took over the menial work of nearly everyone while in the United States we preside over the continual destruction of the traditional family while redefining both societal and gender roles for men, women, adults and children
With society changing at such a rapid pace, the demands of the nations required more and more revenue. Rome acquired theirs via conquest and higher taxes. Already in the United States, the call has begun for higher taxes to support lavish social entitlement spending. In Rome’s case, taxes then were sold as “patriotic” and many people paid them gladly. However, they eventually discerned that their taxes were being misspent and wasted and many stopped paying their taxes. In other words, Rome couldn’t fund their debts. That coupled with the rapid remaking of society, gridlocked politics and no real reasonable solution in sight was when people started thinking that their only salvation was to turn everything over to a single person who would have absolute power. In the United States, we already have the fiscal hole we’ve dug ourselves and the societal upheaval. We lack only the rapid shutoff of financial solutions for our spending. Should our debt and deficit problems remain unaddressed, the rating agencies will have no choice but to downgrade our credit rating yet again. Do that enough times and suddenly you have a scenario where the United States can no longer find buyers for our t-bills. If you think this is impossible, you have only to look at Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and a host of others around the world to see the lie. There is nothing special about the United States that magically insulates us from economical reality. If we keep on this path we will eventually be truly broke…and then rather than a dictatorship, we’ll have another revolution. Either way, it’s the end of the American Republic…and our re-affirming election last week means we’re at least another 2 years away from even starting to address the problem responsibly.
2/ The Democratic Party may not nominate another white male for president again – There. I’ve gone ahead and said it. Democrat white dudes winning the nomination may never happen again. While to some that may sound racist, I submit that a suspension of social outrage is in order while we examine the election’s demographic breakdown. That link goes to demographic results that are, well, fairly stark in terms of demographic politics. To put it bluntly: if you were white you voted for the Republican to the tune of nearly 60%. White voters in this country made up 72% of all those casting votes and Obama got just 39% of you. And yet, he won the general election by 3%. How is that?
He won because he carried blacks by 93%, hispanics by 71% and asians by 73%. That being the case, what does that mean? Well, let’s look at the last times Democrats ran white men as their candidate: Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000. Both men ran against Bush who, by all reasonable accounts, was vulnerable in both elections, yet he managed to win. The numbers though, tell the tale:
In 2000 the non white vote was 19% of the total. In 2004 it was 23% and in 2008 it was 27%. In none of the elections (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) did the Democrat candidate carry the white vote despite it making no less than 72% of all votes cast. The Democrats lost the elections in 2000 and 2004 by close margins. In fact, in each year except 2008, the white vote decreased for the Democrats each election. While Al Gore carried 42% of the white vote in 2000, Obama got just 39% of the vote in 2012.
What it means is this: the Democrats know (or should know) that they cannot win the presidency by counting on the white voter. That voter has become ever more hostile to their message over the years (albeit gradually as Clinton carried only 44% then 39%)…but the white voter is losing influence in this country to the hispanic voter bloc. While I was aware of these numbers somewhat (I didn’t know their exact breakdowns), last week I asked myself a fairly straightforward question and didn’t like the honest answer: if Obama had been a white male running on the record of his deficits, poor employment numbers and such, would he have been re-elected? The answer to that, I believe, is “not a chance in hell”. I have to say, given that the minority vote in this country (especially black and hispanic) is so skewed by the race of the candidate, that the Democrats will eventually come to realize that they won’t win the presidency unless their candidate is a minority or is female (although no polling back in 2008 showed Hillary doing well should she have won the nomination). That, to me, is a rather sobering thought. White voters have split between Democrats and Republicans fairly reliably regardless of the ethnicity of the Democrat candidate. Not so for blacks and hispanics. This suggests a low level racial component when campaigning for minority votes would not only be advisable but beneficial. It also suggests that, for a block representing more than 1/4 of American voters, issues and platforms matter less than the race of the candidate does. In fact, if these numbers were somehow reversed and showed a race bias on the part of white voters, I shudder to contemplate the volume of the racial protests that would follow. However, in this current era of media-sponsored political correctness, not only will there not be a protest, the very existence of these numbers won’t even be mentioned and if they are mentioned, they’ll be summarily dismissed.
Except, I expect, by the king makers in the Democratic party who are just as good with such numbers as I or any of you would be…and they look for any edge they can get in the biggest political game on the planet. Oh, and by the way, for the time it took me to write this post, the United States added an additional $227 million dollars in debt. Nice, huh?
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.