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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

When the trillion-dollar debt merry-go-round breaks down...

Hmm-- US national debt. Right now it seems to be $14+ Trillion:

Increasing at $4.15B/day, each citizen's share is almost $46K.

I'd say these are the ways that the debt can be addressed:

1. Raise taxes. Will make things worse in a bad economy, and piss everyone off. Republicans will fight it tooth and nail, unless they're in power, where they've been known to raise them on their own. Things to look for: stealth taxes, other reformations which amount to raised taxes by other names.

2. Get it from Social Security. Don't look now, but it's ALREADY been looted, and transitioning to a private system will be more expensive short-term, since they'll have to cash in those bonds even quicker. To do away with it entirely, or to privatize it would redirect the income stream elsewhere anyway, so it's of little use. And never mind that those bonds may be rather illusory, the ritual of keeping them in a binder at the bottom of a file cabinet makes them real enough to create a huge scandal if they're simply voided out of hand. Whether or not you call it an "entitlement" in a derogatory way, they represent insurance premiums paid as a condition of employment by every employable person in the US, that were supposed to be in exchange for something.

3. Raise the SS retirement age. Already doing that. Doesn't produce very much income, mostly just slows the cash-in of those bonds to cover the outflow. Helps a little, but not anywhere near enough.

4. Reduce defense spending. Not gonna happen, as that is really all the PTB want out of the US government, those shiny war toys.

5. Declare bankruptcy. Not gonna happen, is tantamount to #4.

6. Reduce spending. Except for SS, Defense, Medicare & Medicaid, it's digging nickels and dimes out from between couch cushions. Look for: hits to Medicare & Medicaid-- it'd be better to cut costs by eliminating patents on prescription drugs (free market, anyone?) and let the rich subsidize drug R&D instead of the sick, but Pharma won't sit still for that and they get you elected.

7. Print more money. Seems to work short term, but penalizes the middle class who don't have many assetts to protect. Look for: more and more wealthy folks looking for protection from this. Somebody's going to get stuck with the bill via this one. Kinda like that lunch meeting where everybody left one at a time, and you got stuck last with the bill, except the bill is several trillion dollars. Last one holding dollars, loses.

8. Sell off government assets. Might actually work, but will have a hard time getting anyone to go for it (selling the country off to furriners again). A lot of these assets are military as well, though selling old hardware is a good way to get rid of old junk we paid too much for new. The $350B in gold would help a little, but could conflict with #7, because $350B isn't enough to do it all by itself. Radio spectrum, loans, lots of properties. Look for: big gold selloff, once the price has been pumped up enough by dollar drop? Not sure if they have the stomach for that.

So what else? Ain't that about it? #7 looks like a big winner! -- works short term, the rich can avoid the downsides as long as they don't move too fast and get noticed. Probably easier to pull off than any of the others as well....