Monthly Archive for July, 2011

Not Just Wrong

American tale, what if we march us to the grave?
What if we make reason an act of treason?
Fear tracks hope back to the cave

In November of 1980, I turned in a paper that got the only F of my college career.  I had written it on election night, and had trouble concentrating when the spectre of Reagan’s voodoo economics looked to be an enormous threat to the nation.  Never knew how much I’d miss those dream-filled days (Warren Haynes meant something else by that, but I hope he’d approve).

Sure, he (Reagan, not Haynes) doubled the public debt as a fraction of GDP, but at least then you could make the argument that maybe we were on the side of the Laffer curve with negative slope.  Today we have 30 years of data that says we weren’t.  At least he raised taxes when the shit hit the fan.  Today any talk of tax increases is met with a fusillade of rhetorical 16mm shells.

Why is that?  My tax rate is lower than it’s been since I started working, and unless you’re filthy rich so is yours.  Hell, I could easily pay a few points more in taxes, and I’m nowhere near the top rate.  We can’t afford all this spending, we keep hearing.  Well no, not if we don’t pony up and pay for it.  Yes, the gross public debt is ridiculously high right now.  And why is that?

Recent contributions to the deficit, from the NYT

Oh look, it’s the wars and the tax cuts.  Which, it seems, are permanent.  End those, and the problem almost goes away.

And what’s the buzz?

“Obama is addicted to deficits.”

“In 40 years Medicare costs will be over 100% of federal revenue, therefore we have to default on our existing debts.”

“If we raise taxes on the rich, they won’t have any money left to pay me.”

Oh yeah?  The data says otherwise.

Top tax rate and marginal growth

It took me 15 seconds of Googling to find that.  Top tax rate is un fucking correlated with GDP growth.  When did facts become unrelated to the discussion?  Even on NPR, it’s all about cutting, and nothing about significant tax increases.

The problem is simple.  We chose to fight not one but two utterly pointless and extremely expensive wars, and then wrote ourselves a big check of tax cuts.  And now we have to have a balanced budget amendment?  Doctor, I can’t afford it when I do this.  Fucking don’t do it then.

So here we are, seriously talking about voluntarily defaulting on our debt because we can’t be bothered to pay our bills.  Something seems wrong about that.

Not just wrong; stupidly wrong.