Monthly Archives: July 2011

The US Default: Whose Fault?

It’s simple to figure this out. The Democrats are making deep concessions. The Republican leadership is working to find a way, but hasn’t made concessions as deep as the Democrats have offered. The Tea Party crowd is refusing to make any kind of deal at all. If August 3 shows up and the USG can’t mail out checks that day, blame the Tea Party.

Yes, I want fiscal responsibility in my government. Now is not the time to rip the entitlements completely apart. Tea Party talking heads say that raising taxes in a recession is a Bad Thing for the economy. This is true. But removing government spending is a Catastrophic Thing. We’re not ready for that level of drastic measure. If the Tea Party is serious about fiscal reform, they’ll have to do it gradually and make concessions.

Cutting government spending all at once would remove a bigger chunk of GDP than raising taxes by the amounts suggested. To keep the economy going the way the bankers would like, the Treasury and Fed will have to do QE3 in a highly flagrant way. The Tea Partiers break out in a rash when they hear “inflation”, but that’s what they’ll have if spending is cut. If they somehow got their wish and kept the money supply where it is, we’d have a complete crash, thanks to a liquidity collapse.

It’s basic economics, but ideology blinds the Tea Party the same way it blinded the Communist Part of China when it started the Great Leap Forward. Ideology ruined a nation before, and it can ruin one again. When the US defaults, I’ll blame the blind ideologues in the Tea Party.

Czech Dream

Czech Dream is a compelling documentary that asks some penetrating questions about the power and pervasiveness of advertising. Although the filmmakers lied about the new hypermart, the ending showing the ads for a fake market coming down to be replaced with ads for cigarettes and credit cards made me ask which ads were really more damaging.

Apple’s Exploiting Example

Apple makes the iPod, right? Sure they do, but where? Try overseas. Apple employs 27,250 overseas employees at an average salary of $11,743. Sure, the company is making great profits, but that’s because it’s both exploiting overseas labor and refusing to give jobs to Americans. Most of its US jobs are low-paying, to be fair. No, wait, that’s unfair!

7789 of Apple’s US jobs pay an average of $28,244, about 2.5 times what the Chinese and Filipinos are paid, but still hardly anything relative to what it costs to live here. And before someone brings up the “it’s cheaper to live in Asia” argument, there’s a reason why it’s cheaper there: they don’t have access to lots of things that are necessary for getting around in the USA. They still face massively more expensive food prices, crowded living conditions, and poor access to health care – kind of like the poor in the USA, but without cars.

6101 professionals and engineers working for Apple’s iPod division made an average of $86,051. They can afford the stuff the rest of the workers made. This is a pattern common across US-based firms and firms that were formerly based in the US, but which moved their HQs to Switzerland to avoid paying taxes to support the nation that gave them their start.

While my own salary is just above the nation’s per capita income, I don’t earn enough for my household of 5 to have a total income equal to that per capita number times 5. I don’t have health care, it’s kinda crowded in this house, and food and fuel are part of my inflationary worries, even if the USG doesn’t want me to think about them. I’m not part of the world of the Apple engineers and the rest of the iPod users. I’m constantly asked to “do more with less”, which is a codephrase for “you’re going to be exploited more.” The whole world has to do more with less so that those who have more can get more still.

Budget Graph

You need to see this. The proposed cuts for 2012 are very, very small indeed. Neither the Republocrats nor the Demicans are serious about trimming the deficit. Both talk about the need for either more taxes and/or more cuts, but neither is willing to go to the extent necessary to keep the wolf from the door.

Have a nice 4th, everyone. I mean that. We still live in a nation where we can holler about things we don’t like, and that’s a precious thing indeed. Governments are idiots everywhere: at least our idiots have to put up with people complaining about them.