A bankrupt nation?
Posted by Lissa on December 17, 2008
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mice,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire —
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
That’s from a Maggie Gallagher article this morning. Apparently I missed news about the Madoff Ponzi scheme — turns out $50 billion dollars never really existed. Great. Well, can’t be that bad, can it?
Federal obligations now exceed the collective net worth of all Americans, according to the New York-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation. [snip] . . . The foundation’s grim calculations are based on Sept. 30 consolidated federal statements, which showed that Americans’ total household net worth, diminished by falling stock prices and home equity, is $56.5 trillion. But rising costs for unfunded social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security increased to $56.4 trillion – and that was before the more recent stock market crash, $700 billion bank bailout, and monster federal deficits chalked up in October and November.
I like to think this is too simplistic a calculation. Net worth does not reflect earning potential nor human capital, only the current balance sheet of the household; coming off years of of living beyond our means, it’s not surprising those balance sheets are rather red. America is still an economic powerhouse because, even with retarded and wasteful government bailouts designed to spare a lucky few while prolonging the economic pain of everyone else, more people than not believe in The American Dream: Get educated. Get a job. Get married. Get a family. As long as we ordinary folks keep behaving like responsible, sentient beings, everything will be okay.
. . . won’t it?
UPDATE: SnarkyBytes linked. Thanks!