RANGER AGAINST WAR: National Suicide <

Monday, January 25, 2010

National Suicide


Earth'd up, here lies an imp o’ hell,
Planted by Satan’s dibble;

Poor silly wretch, he’s damned himsel’,

To save the Lord the trouble.

--Epigram on a Suicide
, Robert Burns


Don't let the sun blast your shadow

Don't let the milk float ride your mind

You're so natural - religiously unkind

--Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
, David Bowie

Money, it's a gas

Grab that cash with both hands

And make a stash

--Money
, Pink Floyd

______________

A few thoughts on money have been knocking around in my head.

Some reports indicate that the damage resulting from the 9.11.01 New York City attacks is +/- $20 billion. Current reports estimate rebuilding costs in Haiti will run upwards of $10 billion. Consider that disparity: a couple of building in NYC cost more than rebuilding the entire region of and surrounding a nation's capital.


Further, consider only the costs of maintaining the 4,000 Marines sent recently to aid in the Haitian recovery and reconstruction effort.
If they remain one year, the cost will be approximately $4,000,000,000. This alone is some serious cash, yet is just a drop in the bucket for U.S. efforts in that country.


To that money, let us add the 35,000 troops surging in Afghanistan. An additional $35 Billion per year (somehow, without all those zeroes, it looks like less.) But still, not chump change. Congress has yet to authorize it, though that is the amount.

Where does all this money come from, and where does it go?
Is it hot off the press? How does it affect our economy?
Why does this not seem to concern the average citizen?

This is not sound economic or military policy. It is a slow form of national suicide.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure it's only 35m and not 35b. Sad that it will cost more to keep GIs there than then the cost of rebuilding. In cost more I don't think they will be coming home any time soon.
jo6pac

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 6:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Joe said...

I think jo6pac is right. You write $4 billion for 5,000 Marines and $35 million for 35,000 troops.

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 6:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Mea culpa.

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 6:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Hi Jim and Lisa,
And when you ask about the money, two kinds of people will argue with you. One will say, "It's an emergency! We hafta!" The other says, "Deficits don't matter." Sigh.

Dave

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 6:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous barcalounger said...

When I think of all the money spent on our military and how it could be better used for R&D, rebuilding our manufacturing base, rebuilding our infrastructure, I get a little upset. Don't get me wrong, I think we should have a well-armed, well-staffed military. But do we have to spend 4% of GDP on our military? Most countries don't spend even 2% of GDP on their military.

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey barcalounger,

itz cuz we're a bunch of scared, intellectually lazy, shopaholic, alcoholic, self-anointed "freedom" spreading bullies. that's just my gut feeling, though. no real science involved.

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 8:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

There's nothing wrong with government spending -- the whole point of government is to spend money on things that aren't affordable individually, such as highways, fire departments, cops, national defense. But thing is, there has to be a service provided or it's just money pissed away that could be used for meaningful things. Even if we're just cranking up the printing presses, we coulda put that freshly printed money to use here in America on shit that actually leaves us with something. You got government spending money on a bridge, we got a bridge after it's done, and we're gonna use that bridge for the next forty years. You got government spending money on a bomb, that gets dropped on some Talib mud hut, oh wow you just spent probably a million dollars (amortizing the price of the aircraft carrier, aircraft, etc.) to demolish a mud hut that cost maybe $50 (for roofing tin) to build, and you don't even have a bomb anymore when you're done -- you literally just blew that money into smithereens.

So yeah, I agree that there's no way we can keep up all these expensive foreign adventures and still have an economy left at the end. Blowing up major portions of our industrial output means that much fewer roads, bridges, cops on the beat, etc., and much less "stuff" for Americans as a whole. Let us not forget that the War of American Secession (1775-1786) was won not because the American colonies won on the battlefield -- they won fewer than half a dozen battles, and the forces they won again represented less than 10% of British forces on American soil -- but, rather, because the English crown RAN OUT OF MONEY and could no longer pay to recruit or supply troops. In short, an endless overseas war bankrupted the wealthiest and most extensive empire on the planet. Not the first time it'd happen, or the last, for that matter...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 12:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Barca,
You are a victim of the green machine.
Really- why do we need a DOD on steroids.?
Does this really mean a bean?
Bad tux,
The money being expended on the PWOT is money thrown down a shit hole-as you point out.
jim

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:08:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our monetary system is one gigantic fraud...there is no other word for it. The gov't can run multi-hundred billion deficits because it can (in cahoots with the Federal Reserve and a whole lot of hocus pocus to obscure what is really happening) simply CREATE OUT OF NOTHING as much electronic digitized "dollars" as it wants. The game will last until it doesn't and no one knows how close or how far we are from the ending.

Maybe we should consider a little physical gold/silver and currency under the mattress??

just a thought...

GSJ

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:19:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

You can't eat gold --that is, anybody who would sell you food won't accept gold in payment. You're better off with more useful commodities if you insist that the dollar is going to self-destruct.

We lost $4 TRILLION in asset values with the housing bust. The Fed has printed $2 trillion in money to replace that money lost from the money supply (assets, since they can be used as collateral for loans, are as good as money insofar as the economy is concerned). Meaning, we're *still* in a deflationary cycle right now. I'm not worried about the Fed's printing activities as long as the Fed is still reasonably independent -- banks hate inflation, the Fed is dominated by banks, therefore any inflation will be met by the Fed *unprinting* money. (Same reason that the Fed is printing right now -- banks hate deflation too, since it means their debtors can no longer afford to pay their debts).

As for the notion of moving to a "hard money" setup, it won't work in any economy that has fractional reserve lending, because fractional reserve lending inflates the money supply during up economic cycles (as banks lend a larger percentage of their reserves out and the loaned-out reserves come back into the banking system as deposits), and deflates the money supply during down economic cycles (as the banks stop lending because of fear they'll need their reserves to handle bank runs and such). Deflation in particular is bad, it transfers material assets from the debtor class to the monied class as the debtor class becomes unable to pay their debts with their deflated salaries and ends up losing it all. During the time the U.S. was on the gold standard, inflation-deflation cycles of this sort were the norm.

Do away with fractional reserve lending, you say? But then capitalism doesn't work, because capitalism relies on using the income derived from future demand to create the capital goods needed to fulfill that future demand. Any economy with factional reserve lending is much more nimble at meeting customer demands because businesses don't have to wait to slowly accumulate profits before they can invest in the capital goods to meet customer demands. So economies without fractional reserve lending have imploded and destroyed themselves over the past century, out-competed by economies that do have fractional reserve lending.

Shorter answer on the money supply: We're not f*cked, and there's no reason why gold is any better than any other currency, and plenty of reasons why it is worse -- the most important reason being that you can't print gold during down cycles to prevent deflation.

More info on my own blog, I write extensively about economics and issues of inflation/deflation/money supply over there, and I somehow doubt that Ranger is *that* fascinated with this topic, unlike myself, who will happily discourse upon it for hours and hours ;).

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

BadTux,

Thank you for the benefit of your erudition. I'm just a bit of a bobble-head who reads Walmart closes 10 Sams stores and shoves off 11,000 employees and thinks, "Whoa!"

With all sincerity, I do learn from your economic posts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

p.s. -- BadTux,

You say, "We're not f*cked" -- so, does that mean you think we'll stay the biggest, baddest boy on the block, despite all of this?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

Well, what I meant was that we weren't f*cked by the Federal Reserve's current actions. But back to the point of the original article about how we're throwing the wealth of the nation down a black hole and it ain't comin' back... yeah, we're pretty f*cked.

- Badtux the Sore Penguin

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Bad Tux,
I am very interested in the topics that you discuss, but in reality it's all beyond my ability to synthesize the big picture.
Therefore i try to focus on the little picture.
jim

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 9:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Joe,jan 25,
If the figure is 5000 Marines then bump the cost to 5 Bil$.
jim

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 10:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Andy said...

We are headed toward national insolvency and we're way past the point where economic growth or working at the margins will save us. Two things seem almost certain to me: Taxes will be going way up and government spending will go way down.

More from recent CBO testimony before Congress:

A large and persistent imbalance between federal spending and revenues is apparent in CBO’s projections for the next 10 years and will be exacerbated in coming decades by the aging of the population and the rising costs of health care. That imbalance stems from policy choices made over many years. As a result of those choices, U.S. fiscal policy is on an unsustainable path to an extent that cannot be solved by minor tinkering. The country faces a fundamental disconnect between the services that people expect the government to provide, particularly in the form of benefits for older Americans, and the tax revenues that people are willing to send to the government to finance those services. That fundamental disconnect will have to be addressed in some way if the nation is to avoid serious long-term damage to the economy and to the well-being of the population.

In ten years we'll likely be spending more money paying interest on the national debt than all other areas of government except medicare and social security and we'll still be adding to the debt to the tune of $700 billion a year. Our ability to borrow from future generations is fasting running out.

Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 4:28:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
In light of your cmts and that of the CBO one must wonder why/how we can even discuss universal health care w/o asking-where's the beef?
jim

Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 5:30:00 PM GMT-5  

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