Over Feeding the Glutton While Hoping He’ll Lose Weight

I continue to marvel at the economy, mostly because I don’t understand it.  I see on the Internet:   Federal Budget Deficit Hits April Record.

Could deifying a president ever go wrong?

There is of course an alarming reaction to this soaring problem.  But then I read in this article:

So far the government has been able to pay low interest rates on the borrowing because foreign investors still see U.S. Treasury securities as a haven in times of turmoil. That was apparent last week when global markets were hit by fears over an expanding debt crisis in Europe.

Officials in China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, have said it will be important for the administration to put together a credible plan for getting control of future deficits.

The mystery to me is that “investors” including China continue to be willing to take on the risk of U.S. debt because they see the U.S. government as a good place to invest money.   That is incomprehensible to me.  The investors are enabling the world’s biggest debtor to increase its debt – like offering free booze to alcoholics in the belief that eventually that will get satiated which will help them then control their excessive drinking.

Let’s see, insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting different results. 

The investors seem like they don’t want the government to quit going deeper into debt.  Or are they addicted to this as well?   When everything crashes everyone will be scratching their heads saying, “What went wrong?”  and “It wasn’t our fault.”  

This all still reminds me very much of years ago when in Reaganomics people kept saying government debt is not a bad thing.  

As long as there is no tomorrow, I suppose, this thinking works.

“Investors” obviously are not sober enough to stop buying U.S. securities – risk taking (=gambling) is too addictive – and thus will never help the U.S. stop its gluttony.  The government apparently feels it is safe as long as investors are willing to keep taking the risk of buying more and more U. S. securities.  Both investors and the U.S. seem very aware of the risk involved of the soaring debt, but the co-dependency leads to denial and other reality defying thinking.

National Debt: It’s Greek To Me

Watching American politics makes me wonder how the country can continue on its current path without serious and painful changes to government programs and layout.  Americans want many things from their government (military, roads, social security, health care, rapid & massive response to manmade and natural disasters) while simultaneously not wanting to pay the taxes needed to support the government.

“Most of the public thinks, ‘If only the darn politicians could get their act together to cut waste, fraud and abuse, and to make tax avoidance go away and so on,’ ” Mr. Greenstein, head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says. “But the bottom line is, there really is no avoiding the hard choices.”

David Leonhardt writing in The NEW YORK TIMES Economic Scene, In Greek Debt Crisis, Some See Parallels to U.S., describes the problem exactly.  Any politician who ever tells the American public hard news is likely to find an unsympathetic electorate (One can think of President Carter telling Americans something has to change in our oil consumption habits).  Leonhardt writes:

And politicians, spendthrift as some may be, are not the main source of the problem.

We, the people, are.

I-80 Bridge

We can blame government and politicians, but our government is chosen by we the people, and we keep putting people in office who create what we’ve got.

As societies become richer, citizens tend to want better schools, better medical care and other government services. This country is following that pattern, but without paying the necessary taxes. That combination has us on a course to Greece-like debt.

What kind of spending cuts or tax hikes are we talking about?  Current estimates say we need to come up with $1 Trillion in such changes today and in today’s dollars.  Leonhardt points out:

Seven percent of G.D.P. is about $1 trillion today. In concrete terms, Medicare’s entire budget is about $450 billion. The combined budgets of the Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Departments are less than $600 billion.

So a plan is needed that would completely eliminate those departments and programs, or their equivalent!   This is where I think those who say they favor reducing the size of government need to start presenting the hard realities of what they would reduce to stop the out of control deficit increase.   Leonhardt’s proposal for coming up with $1 Trillion:

Pentagon

A plan that included a little bit of everything, and then some: say, raising the retirement age; reducing the huge deductions for mortgage interest and health insurance; closing corporate tax loopholes; cutting pensions of some public workers, as Republican governors favor; scrapping wasteful military and space projects; doing more to hold down Medicare spending growth.

 

In my estimation we need people to make concrete proposals with real numbers that total $1 Trillion, not just alarmist arguments for reducing the budget.  We the people have to give courage to our politicians to start now proposing the $1Trillion in budget changes.  If their ideas (spending cuts for example) don’t add up to $1 Trillion,then they are offering only pie in the sky and  we need to tell them, it isn’t good enough.

God Questions His Creation: Genesis 8:1-5 (b)

See:   God Questions His Creation:  Genesis 8:1-5 (a)

Genesis 8:1   But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; 2 the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters had abated; 4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ar’arat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

“God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided”    On the first day of creation in Genesis 1:2, God’s Spirit/wind (the Hebrew word ruah is the same one word used in Genesis to mean wind, breath, Spirit) hovered over the waters of the depths.  So once again God’s wind/Spirit blows over the waters and restrains and contains them and imposes God’s will and order on them.  The renewed and purified creation is about to emerge again from the primordial waters of chaos.

“the fountains of the deep … were closed..”  The same abyss which existed at the beginning when God imposed order on the chaos (Gen 1:2), which then burst forth to cause the deluge (7:11), now are closed once again.

 
St. John Chrysostom

“…the waters receded from the earth…”        Where did all these waters go?     According to Genesis 7:19 covered the entire earth to a depth of 15 cubits (approximately 22.5 feet) above the highest mountain peaks.   This would have created quite a problem for draining it off as there would have been no place for it to drain.   St. John Chrysostom (d. 407AD) acknowledges in his own sermons that the story stretches credibility, but asks his flock to accept that there is some kind of mystery here which is beyond human understanding, and again says the story is really about faith and our willingness to follow God to the depths of the earth or to the heights as the case may be.    Chrysostom is at a loss for how to account for the story because he does accept it as somehow literally true even though not always reasonable.    He appeals to the fact that there are secrets or mysteries of God that we will never be able to understand so we should move beyond the physical details and allow the story to shape our faith which is what it is supposed to do more than give us a history of the world.   The story for him is ultimately about God’s love for the world and how we are to learn about this love by reading scriptures.   In the end Chrysostom says the right response from us to these stories is thanksgiving to God for salvation.  

“At the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters had abated…”        Noah, family and animals would have been in the ark for 5 months when it hits the top of Ara’rat, if the P-Source story is literally true (see Source Theory).   They still have another 190 days left in the ark if one is following the details of the story (and the P-Source).   They would have needed a huge quantity of food for this duration, not to mention a massive clean up job if that was possible.   But if we don’t get caught up in the literal details, we do see the story as a typology of salvation.   God does what it takes to save His chosen ones.  Humans are called upon to be faithful no matter in what conditions we find ourselves.  In the end, God prevails as all is happening according to His will, even natural disasters are not outside of God’s will, nor can they overcome God’s protection for his chosen righteous remnant.  Of course for us another lesson is that the Lord did not spare his favored ones from having to endure the suffering and deprivation caused by the nearly year long flood.  The story only tells us that in the end – after enduring suffering, after being shut up in the ark (a coffin!) – God triumphs and rescues his faithful, raising them from the dead.

“At the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters had abated”    When God first made creation, He divided the waters on one day to expose the dry land.  The restoration of creation is carrying on for 5 months and then only the mountain tops appear.  Is God less eager this time to allow the earth to be inhabited by humans?   The Lord seems to be willing to take much more time to allow things to dry out and become habitable.  There is no steady movement day by day – now time is dragging and God makes no comment about the goodness of His creation cleansed of violence and wickedness.

“in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month”      This is exactly 150 days since the flood began on the 17th day of the second month.    Because of the Jewish writer is using the ancient perpetual solar calendar to reference the story scholars tell us that the story has the waters beginning to ebb and then the mountain tops first appearing on two different Wednesdays.  Wednesday also happens to be the day when the Exodus from Egypt begins (Exodus 12:40-51, Numbers 33:3).  The story places the ark coming to a rest on Ara’rat on a Friday (7th month, 17th day).   Coincidentally on a Friday, the Lord Jesus hanging on the cross says, “It is finished”  (John19:30)  

Seventy three days after landing on Ara’rat  the other mountain tops become visible on a Wednesday, as already noted.

Next: God Questions His Creation:  Genesis 8:6-12 (a)