This chart seems to sum up our fiscal challenges as well as anything else...
With president Obama taking his role as Warmonger-In-Chief ever more seriously, it is easy to forget that the only important function before the greatest presidential teleprompter reader in history, is that of Socialized Healthcare Provider-in-Comrade. And so today, in the fog of pre-war, the Obama administration released the final rules on the "Individual Mandate" component of Obamacare, which requires most Americans to buy health insurance starting in 2014 or be fined. Specifically, the rules list lay out the amount of penalties that Americans will face if they opt out of socialized healthcare. The WSJ was kind enough to read the Treasury Department release and summarize it as follows.
First Signs of Hyperinflation Have Arrived: US National Debt Can Travel From the Earth to the Sun and Back a Stunning 83 Times!Submitted by smartknowledgeu on 08/26/2013 10:44 -0400
If one were to lay $1 bills side by side, the current US National Debt would reach from the earth to the moon 32,358 TIMES AND BACK and to the sun 93 million miles away 83 times AND BACK.
After the banks, after the city of Detroit it will be the USA that will be going bankrupt and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If only that were possible! But unfortunately it won’t be.
From the historical perspective, concentrating virtually all systemic risk into the state is a Grand Experiment. Cheap, abundant oil, expanding working-age populations and rapidly increasing productivity conjured the illusion that the state was large enough and powerful enough to absorb infinite risk with no real consequence. The problem is the state's ability to tax/print/borrow money to cover payouts and losses is not infinite. Having transferred virtually all systemic risks to the state, we presume the state is so large and powerful that a virtually limitless amount of risk can be piled onto the state with no consequences. Offloading risk onto the state does not make the risk vanish; it simply concentrates the risk of collapse into the state itself.
There are all sorts of candidates for the root cause of the systemic global financial crisis, but if we separate the wheat from the chaff we're left with risk and moral hazard. Pointing to human greed and cupidity as the cause doesn't identify anything useful about this era's crisis, as human greed, self-interest and opportunism are default settings. Programs that backstop banks and social insurance systems like Medicare are not like fire or life insurance because they are effectively open-ended in terms of costs and in exposure to risk. A system which pools risk without distributing it to the participants and eliminates the causal connection between risk and consequence introduces moral hazard on a grand scale.
Do those collecting three times the median wage really need the same SSA benefits as those with no other retirement income? The conventional answer is that any means testing of Social Security would destroy its political popularity, but in reality such means-testing would likely affect only the top (higher-income) 10% of the populace. "We wuz promised" does not apply to "pay as you go" systems, which are extraordinarily exposed to current trends and realities. It's time for America to examine the social contract/Social Security in an era of declining full-time employment and widening income inequality. We as a nation need to prioritize the Social Security retirement income of those with no other pension incomes.
Yesterday I thought that Barack Obama was probably the worst President in the entire history of the USA given his record on unemployment and Gross Domestic Product since he has been in office. But, then again, on second thoughts...
The percentage of Americans that are economically independent has dropped to a stunningly low level. What we have in America today is a situation where economic independence is being systematically eradicated and the government is increasingly being expected to provide our daily bread and to take care of all of us from the cradle to the grave. And once you become a serf of the state, it is very hard to resist anything the government is doing in a meaningful way. After all, the money that you are getting from the government is enabling you to survive. In essence, your allegiance has been at least partially purchased and you may not even realize it. At this point, the number of Americans that are financially dependent on the government is absolutely staggering, and it gets worse with each passing year. Just consider the following statistics...
George Orwell's prescient book 1984 envisioned a technologically-enabled authoritarian state of ubiquitous surveillance, propaganda and fear that constantly rewrote history to suit the needs of the present regime. Welcome to the new, improved 1984, America 2013. Ubiquitous surveillance: check. Ubiquitous propaganda extolling the state and central bank: check. Perpetual fear-mongering: check. Perpetual war against an unseen enemy who can never be defeated: check. Police state with essentially unlimited powers to suppress "enemies of the state": check. Continual revision of history to support the current party line: check. However, Orwell underestimated the power of complicity; once you get a check from the state, you begin loving your servitude.
Bullish on one, no so much on the other.
Everybody in America wants health care - but most Americans seem to want someone else to pay for it. In the United States today, the way that our system works is that the hard working, productive members of society pay for the health care of everyone else. At least under socialism everyone gets the same benefits. Our system of health care is a very twisted version of socialism where millions upon millions of very hard working people are forced to pay for the health care of others, but often can't afford to purchase decent health insurance for themselves. When you add it all up, the hard working, productive members of society are at least partially subsidizing the health care of well over half of all Americans while having to pay for their own health care at the same time. Needless to say, it isn't too hard to see who is getting the raw end of the deal.
The problem is clear; every level of government has promised too much and is now faced with the politically unappealing prospect of either drastically increasing taxes for the working age population or significantly reducing benefits for the retired (or future retired). As evidenced by the Detroit bankruptcy, the longer we wait, the worse it will get. The greater the delay, the more pain and suffering citizens will face when the benefits and safety nets they have come to expect from the government suddenly disappear. Over time, politicians from all stripes have proven adept at cognitive dissonance, but these increases in taxes and cuts to benefits will have to happen, one way or another; it is just a matter of time.
The bottom line is that Americans are losing more and more of their medical freedom. By 2015, so many workers will be trapped in the government-run health insurance exchanges that there will be no going back to the private plans we have today. At this rate, single-payer proponents will drive private insurance companies out of business, which has been their intention all along. Obamacare is a hodgepodge of new regulations, requirements, and penalties. Here are the ten most important points that doctors should tell their patients.
When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, the city's demands for a Federal bailout promptly rose to the surface and then just as promptly dissipated following a polite but stern rejection by the president, almost too fast and without any fight, according to some. Or maybe that is only how it appeared. According to the NYT, Detroit's advisors may be looking at a completely different source of Federal "assistance" - a much more indirect one, even if at the end of the day, it is taxpayers who end up footing the bill. Obamacare.