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Posted: 10/28/2006 12:15:45 PM EST


GAO chief warns economic disaster looms

AUSTIN, Texas - David M. Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed."

But Walker doesn't want, or need, your vote this November. He already has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government.

Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin.

From the hustings and the airwaves this campaign season, America's political class can be heard debating Capitol Hill sex scandals, the wisdom of the war in Iraq and which party is tougher on terror. Democrats and Republicans talk of cutting taxes to make life easier for the American people.

What they don't talk about is a dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows, or at least should. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it.

There's a good reason politicians don't like to talk about the nation's long-term fiscal prospects. The subject is short on political theatrics and long on complicated economics, scary graphs and very big numbers. It reveals serious problems and offers no easy solutions. Anybody who wanted to deal with it seriously would have to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits, nasty nostrums that might doom any candidate who prescribed them.

"There's no sexiness to it," laments Leita Hart-Fanta, an accountant who has just heard Walker's pitch. She suggests recruiting a trusted celebrity — maybe Oprah — to sell fiscal responsibility to the American people.

Walker doesn't want to make balancing the federal government's books sexy — he just wants to make it politically palatable. He has committed to touring the nation through the 2008 elections, talking to anybody who will listen about the fiscal black hole Washington has dug itself, the "demographic tsunami" that will come when the baby boom generation begins retiring and the recklessness of borrowing money from foreign lenders to pay for the operation of the U.S. government.

"He can speak forthrightly and independently because his job is not in jeopardy if he tells the truth," said Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Walker can talk in public about the nation's impending fiscal crisis because he has one of the most secure jobs in Washington. As comptroller general of the United States — basically, the government's chief accountant — he is serving a 15-year term that runs through 2013.

This year Walker has spoken to the Union League Club of Chicago and the Rotary Club of Atlanta, the Sons of the American Revolution and the World Future Society. But the backbone of his campaign has been the Fiscal Wake-up Tour, a traveling roadshow of economists and budget analysts who share Walker's concern for the nation's budgetary future.

"You can't solve a problem until the majority of the people believe you have a problem that needs to be solved," Walker says.

Polls suggest that Americans have only a vague sense of their government's long-term fiscal prospects. When pollsters ask Americans to name the most important problem facing America today — as a CBS News/New York Times poll of 1,131 Americans did in September — issues such as the war in Iraq, terrorism, jobs and the economy are most frequently mentioned. The deficit doesn't even crack the top 10.

Yet on the rare occasions that pollsters ask directly about the deficit, at least some people appear to recognize it as a problem. In a survey of 807 Americans last year by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, 42 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit should be a top priority; another 38 percent said it was important but a lower priority.

So the majority of the public appears to agree with Walker that the deficit is a serious problem, but only when they're made to think about it. Walker's challenge is to get people not just to think about it, but to pressure politicians to make the hard choices that are needed to keep the situation from spiraling out of control.

To show that the looming fiscal crisis is not a partisan issue, he brings along economists and budget analysts from across the political spectrum. In Austin, he's accompanied by Diane Lim Rogers, a liberal economist from the Brookings Institution, and Alison Acosta Fraser, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

"We all agree on what the choices are and what the numbers are," Fraser says.

Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion or more, adjusted for inflation. That's almost as much as the total net worth of every person in America — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and those Google guys included.

A hole that big could paralyze the U.S. economy; according to some projections, just the interest payments on a debt that big would be as much as all the taxes the government collects today.

And every year that nothing is done about it, Walker says, the problem grows by $2 trillion to $3 trillion.

People who remember Ross Perot's rants in the 1992 presidential election may think of the federal debt as a problem of the past. But it never really went away after Perot made it an issue, it only took a breather. The federal government actually produced a surplus for a few years during the 1990s, thanks to a booming economy and fiscal restraint imposed by laws that were passed early in the decade. And though the federal debt has grown in dollar terms since 2001, it hasn't grown dramatically relative to the size of the economy.

But that's about to change, thanks to the country's three big entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicaid and especially Medicare. Medicaid and Medicare have grown progressively more expensive as the cost of health care has dramatically outpaced inflation over the past 30 years, a trend that is expected to continue for at least another decade or two.

And with the first baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security in 2008 and for Medicare in 2011, the expenses of those two programs are about to increase dramatically due to demographic pressures. People are also living longer, which makes any program that provides benefits to retirees more expensive.

Medicare already costs four times as much as it did in 1970, measured as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product. It currently comprises 13 percent of federal spending; by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office projects it will consume nearly a quarter of the budget.

Economists Jagadeesh Gokhale of the American Enterprise Institute and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania have an even scarier way of looking at Medicare. Their method calculates the program's long-term fiscal shortfall — the annual difference between its dedicated revenues and costs — over time.

By 2030 they calculate Medicare will be about $5 trillion in the hole, measured in 2004 dollars. By 2080, the fiscal imbalance will have risen to $25 trillion. And when you project the gap out to an infinite time horizon, it reaches $60 trillion.

Medicare so dominates the nation's fiscal future that some economists believe health care reform, rather than budget measures, is the best way to attack the problem.

"Obviously health care is a mess," says Dean Baker, a liberal economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank. "No one's been willing to touch it, but that's what I see as front and center."

Social Security is a much less serious problem. The program currently pays for itself with a 12.4 percent payroll tax, and even produces a surplus that the government raids every year to pay other bills. But Social Security will begin to run deficits during the next century, and ultimately would need an infusion of $8 trillion if the government planned to keep its promises to every beneficiary.

Calculations by Boston University economist Lawrence Kotlikoff indicate that closing those gaps — $8 trillion for Social Security, many times that for Medicare — and paying off the existing deficit would require either an immediate doubling of personal and corporate income taxes, a two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits, or some combination of the two.

Why is America so fiscally unprepared for the next century? Like many of its citizens, the United States has spent the last few years racking up debt instead of saving for the future. Foreign lenders — primarily the central banks of China, Japan and other big U.S. trading partners — have been eager to lend the government money at low interest rates, making the current $8.5-trillion deficit about as painful as a big balance on a zero-percent credit card.

In her part of the fiscal wake-up tour presentation, Rogers tries to explain why that's a bad thing. For one thing, even when rates are low a bigger deficit means a greater portion of each tax dollar goes to interest payments rather than useful programs. And because foreigners now hold so much of the federal government's debt, those interest payments increasingly go overseas rather than to U.S. investors.

More serious is the possibility that foreign lenders might lose their enthusiasm for lending money to the United States. Because treasury bills are sold at auction, that would mean paying higher interest rates in the future. And it wouldn't just be the government's problem. All interest rates would rise, making mortgages, car payments and student loans costlier, too.

A modest rise in interest rates wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, Rogers said. America's consumers have as much of a borrowing problem as their government does, so higher rates could moderate overconsumption and encourage consumer saving. But a big jump in interest rates could cause economic catastrophe. Some economists even predict the government would resort to printing money to pay off its debt, a risky strategy that could lead to runaway inflation.

Macroeconomic meltdown is probably preventable, says Anjan Thakor, a professor of finance at Washington University in St. Louis. But to keep it at bay, he said, the government is essentially going to have to renegotiate some of the promises it has made to its citizens, probably by some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts.

But there's no way to avoid what Rogers considers the worst result of racking up a big deficit — the outrage of making our children and grandchildren repay the debts of their elders.

"It's an unfair burden for future generations," she says.

You'd think young people would be riled up over this issue, since they're the ones who will foot the bill when they're out in the working world. But students take more interest in issues like the Iraq war and gay marriage than the federal government's finances, says Emma Vernon, a member of the University of Texas Young Democrats.

"It's not something that can fire people up," she says.

The current political climate doesn't help. Washington tends to keep its fiscal house in better order when one party controls Congress and the other is in the White House, says Sawhill.

"It's kind of a paradoxical result. Your commonsense logic would tell you if one party is in control of everything they should be able to take action," Sawhill says.

But the last six years of Republican rule have produced tax cuts, record spending increases and a Medicare prescription drug plan that has been widely criticized as fiscally unsound. When President Clinton faced a Republican Congress during the 1990s, spending limits and other legislative tools helped produce a surplus.

So maybe a solution is at hand.

"We're likely to have at least partially divided government again," Sawhill said, referring to predictions that the Democrats will capture the House, and possibly the Senate, in next month's elections.

But Walker isn't optimistic that the government will be able to tackle its fiscal challenges so soon.

"Realistically what we hope to accomplish through the fiscal wake-up tour is ensure that any serious candidate for the presidency in 2008 will be forced to deal with the issue," he says. "The best we're going to get in the next couple of years is to slow the bleeding."


news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061028/ap_on_go_ot/america_the_bankrupt

Must be Clinton's fault
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 12:47:37 PM EST
More like FDR's. And his inheritors'.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 12:56:33 PM EST
Be less problems if they'd stop spending money on stupid pork shit like huge bridges in Alaska, replacing just repaired railroad's in MS, or decommissioning submarines they just spent a shitload repairing.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:02:31 PM EST
Cliff's notes version, please.


B
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:02:34 PM EST

Originally Posted By Spade:
Be less problems if they'd stop spending money on stupid pork shit like huge bridges in Alaska, replacing just repaired railroad's in MS, or decommissioning submarines they just spent a shitload repairing.


As much of a waste as that stuff is, it's peanuts compared to the President's massive boost in Medicare spending and the Social Security pyramid scheme.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:07:30 PM EST
I got a better idea: What's with this foreign aid BULLSHIT?


I think that money, dolllar, would be MUCH better spent here at home!



CJ
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:10:21 PM EST
Is this really news, when our citizens are paying to support foreign nationals, and if they stop, they lose everything and go to prision?
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:25:20 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:33:01 PM EST
Stock up on Food, Water, and Ammo.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:33:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/28/2006 1:38:09 PM EST by Submariner]

Originally Posted By raven:
More like FDR's. And his inheritors'.


Try Lincoln: Greenbacks, income tax and a national bank. The "Union" Pacific Railroad ring a bell? (The great Northern was bult for less money with no government subsidies.

ETA: The Decider has yet to veto ONE spending bill. Maybe he's a libtard.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 2:56:23 PM EST
This is pure tinfoil nonsense.

I can just put all the costs on my credit card and everything will be fine.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:05:59 PM EST
The baby boomers and their healthcare costs are going to be interesting.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:07:13 PM EST
Ok Duke, we get it, George W.Bush has destroyed the country.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:21:09 PM EST
The Federal deficit has been cut in half three years ahead of the plan President Bush put together during the last election cycle. (Presidential Radio Address)

The head of the GAO is just spouting FUD to rake in some nice speaking fees.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:36:45 PM EST

It's pretty fucking pathetic that we don't have a balanced budget as part of a Constitutional Amendment.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:50:08 PM EST

Originally Posted By Submariner:

Originally Posted By raven:
More like FDR's. And his inheritors'.


Try Lincoln: Greenbacks, income tax and a national bank. The "Union" Pacific Railroad ring a bell? (The great Northern was bult for less money with no government subsidies.

ETA: The Decider has yet to veto ONE spending bill. Maybe he's a libtard.


My vote goes to Wilson as the president most culpable, Lincoln and FDR tied for second, GWB and Clinton tied for third, mostly for failing to act, and only worse than many others because the problem has gotten worse over the years.

A balanced budget would cause a recession, possibly worse. If debt inflation stops our monetary system collapses, and that's the heart of the problem IMO.

It's the fault line that runs through every issue, the power using debt instruments as legal tender in payment of debt provides the state.

The federal reserve act was passed in 1913, it's not a coincidence that 16 years later there was a depression, and then a new deal.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:58:05 PM EST

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
I would like to see where the libtards are going to cut spending.
Anyone?
Anyone?

Hahahahaha. Keep dreaming.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 4:39:30 PM EST

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
I would like to see where the libtards are going to cut spending.
Anyone?
Anyone?

Hahahahaha. Keep dreaming.


I'd imagine they would start with saving hundreds of billions of $ by not starting an unnecessary and unjust war
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 4:47:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I got a better idea: What's with this foreign aid BULLSHIT?


I think that money, dolllar, would be MUCH better spent here at home!

CJ


$15B pledged by Bush to Africa to fight AIDS. People that I know who work at the CDC said it was the lamest political stunt ahead of the 2004 elections because there is no way Africa was setup to absorb that much money in the given timeframe. They ended up having to recklessly dumping the money to meet Bush's PR driven timeline and much of that money ended up in the hands of con artists.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:08:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By sobiloff:
The Federal deficit has been cut in half three years ahead of the plan President Bush put together during the last election cycle. (Presidential Radio Address)

The head of the GAO is just spouting FUD to rake in some nice speaking fees.


Not the debt. Just the rate at which the debt is growing.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:09:00 PM EST

Originally Posted By Balming:
Cliff's notes version, please.
B

The terrorists are too late, the Republicans and Democrats will finish the country off before the Terrorists make any real headway.
Oh wait, this is ar15.com, I'm supposed to pretend it's all the Democrats fault.. sorry.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:13:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By learath:

Originally Posted By Balming:
Cliff's notes version, please.
B

The terrorists are too late, the Republicans and Democrats will finish the country off before the Terrorists make any real headway.
Oh wait, this is ar15.com, I'm supposed to pretend it's all the Democrats fault.. sorry.


+1
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:22:20 PM EST

Originally Posted By PhilipPeake:

Originally Posted By sobiloff:
The Federal deficit has been cut in half three years ahead of the plan President Bush put together during the last election cycle. (Presidential Radio Address)

The head of the GAO is just spouting FUD to rake in some nice speaking fees.


Not the debt. Just the rate at which the debt is growing.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:52:54 PM EST
Most democracies go through this its just part of a cycle. Voters will continue to elect those who offer them the most benefits and services. Soon the system cannot support these services and then it collapses in on itself. At this point anarchy ensues when the government becomes bankrupt and democracy is replaced with a totalitarian system in which the people agree to exchange their freedom for restored order and basic services. The next few decades are spent fighting to regain democracy and liberal ideas of government. Those who oppose the dictatorship are hunted down and murdered by those in power. However democracy eventually returns as the populace becomes more wealthy, educated and powerful. A healthy Republic is reborn but in time human nature causes its citizens to forget the past and once again vote for those who promise them more. Then the system collapses once again as the promised services and benefits can no longer be delivered, and the cycle starts again. The United States is in the latter part of this cycle, when it will end is not clear, but there will be an end. No state last forever, they all fall eventually, even the most powerful the world has ever seen.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:54:45 PM EST

Originally Posted By texasaggie:
Most democracies go through this its just part of a cycle. Voters will continue to elect those who offer them the most benefits and services. Soon the system cannot support these services and then it collapses in on itself. At this point anarchy ensues when the government becomes bankrupt and democracy is replaced with a totalitarian system in which the people agree to exchange their freedom for restored order and basic services. The next few decades are spent fighting to regain democracy and liberal ideas of government. Those who oppose the dictatorship are hunted down and murdered by those in power. However democracy eventually returns as the populace becomes more wealthy, educated and powerful. A healthy Republic is reborn but in time human nature causes its citizens to forget the past and once again vote for those who promise them more. Then the system collapses once again as the promised services and benefits can no longer be delivered, and the cycle starts again. The United States is in the latter part of this cycle, when it will end is not clear, but there will be an end. No state last forever, they all fall eventually, even the most powerful the world has ever seen.

Could you quote a source?
I'm moderately familiar with history, and can't think of a single nation/country that has gone through that entire cycle as you describe it.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 5:58:24 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 6:01:08 PM EST

Originally Posted By raven:
More like FDR's. And his inheritors'.


Don't forget LBJ.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 6:01:13 PM EST
What are we, nearly ten trillion dollars in debt?

It's not one presidents fault.
It's not one congressman's fault.

There is a LOT of blame to spread over a LARGE number of individuals, groups, etc.

But the bottom line is correct: Something needs to be done, and soon.

Link Posted: 10/28/2006 7:08:05 PM EST
I will try to take another look at the article tomorrow, but I was not aware that GAO did independent budget forcasting. I thought that was the job of the CBO (Congressional Budget Office). GAO is like an inspector general for the government acting on behalf of Congress. They do their own research too, but I didn't realize they were getting into budget forcasting in a big way.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 8:31:03 PM EST

Originally Posted By learath:

Originally Posted By texasaggie:
Most democracies go through this its just part of a cycle. Voters will continue to elect those who offer them the most benefits and services. Soon the system cannot support these services and then it collapses in on itself. At this point anarchy ensues when the government becomes bankrupt and democracy is replaced with a totalitarian system in which the people agree to exchange their freedom for restored order and basic services. The next few decades are spent fighting to regain democracy and liberal ideas of government. Those who oppose the dictatorship are hunted down and murdered by those in power. However democracy eventually returns as the populace becomes more wealthy, educated and powerful. A healthy Republic is reborn but in time human nature causes its citizens to forget the past and once again vote for those who promise them more. Then the system collapses once again as the promised services and benefits can no longer be delivered, and the cycle starts again. The United States is in the latter part of this cycle, when it will end is not clear, but there will be an end. No state last forever, they all fall eventually, even the most powerful the world has ever seen.


Could you quote a source?

I'm moderately familiar with history, and can't think of a single nation/country that has gone through that entire cycle as you describe it.


+1
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 8:34:47 PM EST

Originally Posted By Admiral_Crunch:

Originally Posted By Spade:
Be less problems if they'd stop spending money on stupid pork shit like huge bridges in Alaska, replacing just repaired railroad's in MS, or decommissioning submarines they just spent a shitload repairing.


As much of a waste as that stuff is, it's peanuts compared to the President's massive boost in Medicare spending and the Social Security pyramid scheme.



yeah, Medicare D has added something between $700billion- 1 trillion to the
national debt

& that was a GOP plan (vote pandering)
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 8:10:37 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 11:13:17 PM EST
The politicos are going to avoid addressing the problem and pass the buck on to the next smuck, and of course to the our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The current retirees are making out like a bandit. They are getting mroe benefits than they ever put into the fund. Me? I hope just hope to get 50% of what I put in at the most. The boomers are going to get screwed.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 11:22:58 PM EST
Walker is a liberal appointed by Clinton. That is all that needs to be said.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 11:30:44 PM EST

Originally Posted By C-4:
It's pretty fucking pathetic that we don't have a balanced budget as part of a Constitutional Amendment.


It's pretty fucking obvious why we don't...

With a 'balanced budget' we wouldn't have been able to pay for WWI, WWII the Cold War, etc...

Even private business doesn't run on a balanced budget - that's why we have banks, the bond market, etc...

Life runs on credit, because the times you NEED money are not allways the same as the times you have it...
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 11:34:26 PM EST

Originally Posted By hughjafj:
Walker is a liberal appointed by Clinton. That is all that needs to be said.


Yup...

Funny how the 'balanced budget' argument is rotating between (D) and (R) as power changes hands...

It would be so much better if we just dropped the damn thing, and focused on staying '#1' so that it doesn't matter...

As long as the US is the #1 world power, the other countries who own a portion of the debt (a PORTION, because a good bit of it is held by US citizens and corporations - some is held by the government itself, and by the states) can't do anything about it...

If we slip back into isolationisim, then the debt can become a problem....
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 2:15:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By DukeSnookems:

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
I would like to see where the libtards are going to cut spending.
Anyone?
Anyone?

Hahahahaha. Keep dreaming.

I'd imagine they would start with saving hundreds of billions of $ by not starting an unnecessary and unjust war

LOL. Not only do I absolutely believe that all these "anti-war" Democratic candidates would CONTINUE fighting this war for the time being (they're just saying what they think the electorate wants to hear), they will dream up all kinds of ways to increase spending even more than the Republicans are doing right now.

Like I said. Keep dreaming.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 2:24:46 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:14:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

Originally Posted By DukeSnookems:

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
I would like to see where the libtards are going to cut spending.
Anyone?
Anyone?

Hahahahaha. Keep dreaming.

I'd imagine they would start with saving hundreds of billions of $ by not starting an unnecessary and unjust war

LOL. Not only do I absolutely believe that all these "anti-war" Democratic candidates would CONTINUE fighting this war for the time being (they're just saying what they think the electorate wants to hear), they will dream up all kinds of ways to increase spending even more than the Republicans are doing right now.

Like I said. Keep dreaming.


Not to mention all the 'operations' they'd gladly participate in - but never for economic interest - modern Democrats only go to war over idealistic intelectual causes in economically & strategically worthless 3rd-world shitholes....

They'll go to war in Darfur, or Congo, Liberia, or Hati... They wish they'd gone into Rwanda...

But not Iraq, or Afghanistan...

Hmm...
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:31:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Life runs on credit, because the times you NEED money are not allways the same as the times you have it...


Do you mean that without banksters' creation of credit we would all be dead?

1913 was a very bad year. Agreed. Federal Reserve Bank, income tax and direct election of senators. I still don't think it would have happened without Lincoln and his spawn. YMMV.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:44:45 AM EST
The solution is simple. Kill all the Baby Boomers.

Seriously, there IS no problem.......... as long as anyone will buy US debt instruments.
Fiddle away, all you grasshoppers.

Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:45:42 AM EST


What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country. This message must be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television. I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion. I want everyone to remember *why* they need us!
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:13:10 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 5:03:43 AM EST by FMD]

Originally Posted By learath:

Originally Posted By texasaggie:
Most democracies go through this its just part of a cycle. Voters will continue to elect those who offer them the most benefits and services. Soon the system cannot support these services and then it collapses in on itself. At this point anarchy ensues when the government becomes bankrupt and democracy is replaced with a totalitarian system in which the people agree to exchange their freedom for restored order and basic services. The next few decades are spent fighting to regain democracy and liberal ideas of government. Those who oppose the dictatorship are hunted down and murdered by those in power. However democracy eventually returns as the populace becomes more wealthy, educated and powerful. A healthy Republic is reborn but in time human nature causes its citizens to forget the past and once again vote for those who promise them more. Then the system collapses once again as the promised services and benefits can no longer be delivered, and the cycle starts again. The United States is in the latter part of this cycle, when it will end is not clear, but there will be an end. No state last forever, they all fall eventually, even the most powerful the world has ever seen.


Could you quote a source?

I'm moderately familiar with history, and can't think of a single nation/country that has gone through that entire cycle as you describe it.


Ever hear of Rome?

ETA: As far as a source, I thought something like this would be fairly well-known, as it's been around for a long time. Here's one permutation of the idea (FWIW the historical validity of the quote isn't 100%, so take it for what it's worth):


A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage .

- attributed to Alexander Tytler (Scottish historian) on the fall of Athens, ~ 1787


Edit2: Again, the idea's been around for a long time. The idea that all bodies politic go through a cyclical pattern of birth, corruption, decay, and collapse has been around since Plato's Republic.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:20:41 AM EST

Originally Posted By Balming:
Cliff's notes version, please.


B


1. The head of the GAO is a democrat.
2. The GAO organization has been controlled by democrats for decades now.
3. There never was a breather in the 1990's as it was accounting trickery of greater scale than Enron.
4. Entitlements are the chief cause of the defict and debt.
5. I think we are closing in on 70% of government spending being entitlements but I need to check on that again.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:24:24 AM EST

Originally Posted By Admiral_Crunch:

Originally Posted By Spade:
Be less problems if they'd stop spending money on stupid pork shit like huge bridges in Alaska, replacing just repaired railroad's in MS, or decommissioning submarines they just spent a shitload repairing.


As much of a waste as that stuff is, it's peanuts compared to the President's massive boost in Medicare spending and the Social Security pyramid scheme.


+1

Social Security and Medicare are the only two issues.

But, no one with a brain in their head could possibly trust politicians to solve this when they're the ones that caused it by spending Social Security surpluses and replacing it with IOUs. We may end up with Socialized Medicine because it will be the only way we can pay doctors minimum wages!!!
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:30:21 AM EST
Sell California to Mexico for $2 Trillion. We'll take payments.

Hawaii wants to be free of the US. Sell them to Japan for $1 Billion.

Pull our troops out of South Korea. Let South Korea have a few good years alone with Kim Jong iL.

Send the Phode Island Army National Guard to take over Canada and beat it's massive military. In 30 hours after the long battle we'll cut it up and make 8 more States out of it. Whalla.....problems solved.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:33:26 AM EST

Originally Posted By nightstalker:

Originally Posted By Admiral_Crunch:

Originally Posted By Spade:
Be less problems if they'd stop spending money on stupid pork shit like huge bridges in Alaska, replacing just repaired railroad's in MS, or decommissioning submarines they just spent a shitload repairing.


As much of a waste as that stuff is, it's peanuts compared to the President's massive boost in Medicare spending and the Social Security pyramid scheme.


+1

Social Security and Medicare are the only two issues.

But, no one with a brain in their head could possibly trust politicians to solve this when they're the ones that caused it by spending Social Security surpluses and replacing it with IOUs. We may end up with Socialized Medicine because it will be the only way we can pay doctors minimum wages!!!


Now THERE is a scary thought.

Where the hell did I put my tinfoil...
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:25:41 AM EST

Originally Posted By FMD:

-snip-

...democracy eventually returns as the populace becomes more wealthy, educated and powerful. A healthy Republic is reborn...

.




1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence; <------ WE ARE HERE
8. From dependence back into bondage


I think the part of your theory that people took issue with is the proposed automatic rebirth of the republic. The cycle you described is very similar to what happened in Nazi Germany, except that we had to assist the process with liberal application of high explosives, and trillions of dollars. Even today, they can hardly be considered free.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:27:22 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 5:27:53 AM EST by vito113]

Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Originally Posted By FMD:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence; <------ WE ARE HERE
8. From dependence back into bondage <------ ENGLAND IS HERE


ANdy
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:53:56 AM EST

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Originally Posted By FMD:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty; <------- SOME PEOPLE ARE HERE
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence; <------ WE ARE HERE
8. From dependence back into bondage <------ ENGLAND IS HERE


ANdy
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 8:50:22 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 8:51:42 AM EST by nightstalker]

Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By FMD:

-snip-

...democracy eventually returns as the populace becomes more wealthy, educated and powerful. A healthy Republic is reborn...

.




1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence; <------ WE ARE HERE
8. From dependence back into bondage


I think the part of your theory that people took issue with is the proposed automatic rebirth of the republic. The cycle you described is very similar to what happened in Nazi Germany, except that we had to assist the process with liberal application of high explosives, and trillions of dollars. Even today, they can hardly be considered free.


Not to argue with the above, it's quite compelling in a way but does anyone have a progression list for socialism?

1. Bondage
2. A little more bondage
3. Just a tad more
4. Kids or no kids
5. boys or girls
6. euthanasia
7. good surf for the few.
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