Rob (rob22206) wrote,

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Fiscal Sanity | Iraq doesn't make sense

First off, I admit that I'm not an economist. I studied statistics, finance,
microeconomics, and law and economics in my undergraduate and law school days.
I also consider myself above-average in my understanding of money. I fully
concede that I don't completely understand the debt structure of the Federal
Government, and how they can be trillions of dollars in debt without the entire
country imploding. I probably know just enough to make me dangerous. :)

A Dean supporter responded to my Bush is crazy screed of a few days ago. He
said, "Come to think of it, a lot of people _do_ have 60-70% of their income in
debt - between car, morgage, student loans, credit cards, etc. I know my wife
and I have 50% tied up in our car right now, and I'm really fiscally
conservative." Need I say more? I guess so many Americans are in up to their
eyeballs in debt that they think debt is a great thing. And if it's good for
them, it's good for the country.

Well, I have several comments on this subject of consumer debt versus Federal
debt. 1. Most debt is financial slavery. 2. A debt which is tied up in an
appreciating asset (like a house) is good. 3. Debt on depreciating assets
like a car and on credit cards is not good (but sometimes necessary).

To give you an idea about my fiscal character, I drive a 19-year-old car. I
carry two types of debt: student loans (which is now under 4% APR, and was a
long term investment in my current and future earnings potential), and a
mortgage (in two years, my house is now worth 50% more than what I bought it
for, so the house's fair market value minus the mortgage is actually a net

In contrast, the Bush budget has us going into debt to pay for a war that
doesn't improve our national security. Personally, I think it's breeding a
whole new generation of hatred against the U.S.

To be fair, the Bush budget is also going into debt to pay for expensive and
inefficient government "income redistribution" programs such as Medicare and
Social Security. But Bush, like many presidents, is either afraid, unwilling
or unable to drastically reform those wasteful and dying programs.

Bush doesn't show any sign of letting up on his "war on terrorism." As a
friend said, "Bush bills this as 'wartime spending', so if there's no end in
sight to the 'war on terror', then there's no end in sight to the debt

I'll make it simple. Afghanistan made sense. 19 people belonging to a
terrorist group linked to Bin Laden attacked the U.S., Bin Laden is in
Afghanistan, Taliban rules Afghanistan, we ask for the Taliban's help in
getting Bin Laden, they refuse, we invade Afghanistan and remove the Taliban,
and we rebuild Afghanistan as a democratic nation to make up for blowing up
their blown-up country.

Now, look at Iraq. To me, there is no dierct causal connection between our
actions in Iraq and our national security. The only thing I've heard that
comes close to filling that logical gap is the dubious argument that (1) Iraq
had WMD and that Iraq was about to use WMD on its own people and/or on others
in the region, and/or (2) that Saddam also harbors and pays terrorists who are
anti-U.S. So far, I've seen no conclusive proof that either (1) or (2) are the
"truth." If Bush has this kind of information, why isn't he sharing it with
the U.S. public?

Some argue he's waiting until a few months before the election to fill in all
the logical gaps in the above puzzle. Part of me hopes he does, because it
justifies all this murder and mayhem (yes, we've killed 9000 people in Iraq and
counting, and we've lost 100s of U.S. soldiers in the process), but I will be
equally pissed off if he is withholding information for political gain, and in
so doing, fans the flames of anti-American sentiment in the world.

By 2005, $300 billion dollars will be going to the interest on the Federal
debt. In other words, $300 billion is going from the taxpayers pockets to
various government programs, private interests, and foreign pockets. That
money could have stayed in the free market, where it does the most good and
isn't wasted.

In case you can't tell, I don't like big government. :)

Realistically, if either Howard or Dean are going to beat Bush, they are
probably going to have to work together in the end. I hope they don't destroy
each other in the primaries, because they are the "outsiders" compared to
Kerry, Gephardt, and the rest of the liberal gang. In my mind, Clark-Dean or
Dean-Clark sounds like a dream ticket.

I'd also be happy if Bush "saw the light," got out of Iraq, left a U.N.-led
coalition behind (or preferably an Arab-led coalition behind), and started
working on domestic defense and the mounting domestic fiscal situation.

Another friend observed, "Dean-Clark would be a great ticket. Dean needs to
start laying off of [Clark] though, with the whole "you were a Republican a
month ago...", especially now that Clark's campaign is falling apart." This
morning, I heard on the radio that everyone is tearing into Clark in the
debates. That kind of mentality might cost the Democrats the election. I
guess that takes the heat off Dean, which might be good. As much as I'd love
to see Dean-Clark, northern Democrats don't have a good track record in
presidential politics. Of course, prior to 1992, no one ever thought another
Southern Democratic Governor would gain the White House, much less two terms.

Too many Democrats run to the left during the primaries and come out looking
and acting waaaay too liberal for the mainstream voters and for moderate
Republicans. So, the moderate Republicans either (a) stay home, (b) vote GOP
as the "lesser of two evils," or (c) vote independent. Clinton recognized
this. Gore did not. Gore sounded like an old school tax and spend labor
liberal in 2000. I don't expect Clark or Dean to make the same mistake.

As I recall from my political science classes, high voter turnout tends to
favor the GOP. But, we'll see. As in most elections, it all depends on the
moderate vote.

Back to work.
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