Articles of Confederation bitchez!

Because that worked so well.  Who needs a balance of powers anyway? Checks and balances? Bleh.  We have a US Senator is ‘whipping’ votes in the House of Representatives. A significant cohort of the Congress is ideologically committed to the destruction of a strong Federal government. The House Speakership – designed to wield enormous power – now powerless. Who really needs him any more? Put the world economy at risk during a fragile recovery? So what if that usually leads to World Wars. That’s the world’s problem. – and damn Europeans and Mooslims.

Shut it down. Take it down! USA! USA! USA!

I asked my old friend Wikipedia for a few random factoids about the debt and that debt ceiling thingee:

  • 800px-US_Public_Debt_Ceiling_1981-2010US government indebtedness has been the norm in the financial history of the nation. The carriage of debt in Western Europe and North America by governments has been normal for the past 200 years, so the US situation is not unique.
  • The US has been in debt every year except for 1835.
  • Debts incurred during the American Revolutionary War and under the Articles of Confederation led to the first yearly report on the amount of the debt ($75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791).
  • Every President since Herbert Hoover has added to the national debt expressed in absolute dollars. The debt ceiling has been raised 74 times since March 1962,[1] including 18 times under Ronald Reagan, eight times under Bill Clinton, seven times under George W. Bush, and three times under Barack Obama.

36 responses to “Articles of Confederation bitchez!

  1. And it’s all for nothing. The medical insurance company I work for has already started offering the ACA exchange plans to people (although our state exchange doesn’t officially open until three days from now) and we’re already signing up new members. As far as my employer is concerned, this is a done deal. I’m observing what is going in Washington as interesting theater, nothing more.


    • I see the same thing here in FL brat – in spite of our Tea Party governor’s very public effort to ban entry to health deparatments to ACA navigators. But the county supervisors put him straight – not his call, counties own those buildings and they make the rules. So mostly the navigators are going in except of course in particularly toxic partisan districts. You’d think Obama was coming for their first-borns . . . .


  2. Just so, Moe. And even though the national debt continues to grow but contrary to public perception, the Obama administration has been reducing the annual budget deficit every year, with this year being the best for that. But never mind, the sky is falling. And if Senator Cruz has his way, if it doesn’t he will personally see that it does.


    • Right Jim, and a diminishing deficit is essential to addressing the debt. Deficit has to come first, so the news is good . . . but try to tell that to anyone whose blood is boiling because Obama is ‘running up the debt’.


    • Not exactly, Jim. Obama and what amounted to “His Congress” until 2010 has been deferring that till after he’s well out of office. All there plans have what amounts to balloon payments about 10 years out.


      • Baloon payments, jonolan? No, the Obama administration’s record is much better than his predecessor’s in that regard, and in that I refer mainly to the run-away spending on contractors during the Iraq war and the other stuff in the book, Top Secret America. And if you are obliquely referring to the “costs” of Obamacare, that isn’t government payments, it is just requiring people to pay for their own healthcare.

        Moe has posted real data here and I would appeal to you and other commenters to address it with some specificity in return. Yes, the chart confirms a serious upward slope to the debt trend, but that slope began at the start of the Iraq war and the reason it’s still that way is, ironically, just what you said, the balloon-payment momentum from that time. We are still trying to recover from the Great Recession. Making non-specific accusations is the kind of demagoguery that scares people and has become the principal methodology of the Tea Party.


        • Jim – Read that book recently. I remember Dana Priest doing interviews when it was published and talking about that facility in Utah – the planet’s largest ‘hard drive’ basically.


  3. Could you imagine if you were actually trying to implement a single payer system instead of the shambling zombie-turd ostensibly called ‘Obamacare’.

    Heads would asplode everywhere in the US. More to the point they wouldn’t explode because Single Payer would save them money, they would asplode because the interests of average American would be served.


    • Arb – this health care business still amazes me . . . so many of my fellow Americans are simply immune to the logic of it. We are unique on this planet I think – willfully ignorant, almost impervious to evidence, determined to act against our own best interests. I cant’ figure it out.


      • @Moe

        I would think a fair portion of the blame can be put on the media that seeks to distort reality in favour of elite consensus. So many people actively take positions that are contrary to their futures and self interest. Like you, I can only stand back in horrified amazement of what is transpiring.

        Cue the libertarian and objectivist outcry over even mentioning the greatest evil of our time – ‘universal healthcare’.


        • Arb – I’m inclined to lay enormous blame on the media too – for that and many other failures. Americans pretty much have no idea of civics or how their governmnet works anymore (and don’t even get me started on georgraphy!) Did you know that Otto VonBismark launched Germany’s universal health care system in . . . wait for it . . . the 1800’s!!!! Eh, you probalby knew that.


      • Oh hey, I found a good article at counterpunch on single payer health care in the American Context.


        • Good article, thanks for the link. Nader is so good but he’s practically invisible now – been demonized by the right.

          What’s really irksome is we have a system already in place that works beautifully and is very cost efficient. “Medicare for All” would solve our problems very nicely, but of course that would be bad for FREEDOM. Better to go broke or die. Or both.


          • Ms. Holland,

            So your solution is Medicare for All because it works beautifully and is very cost efficient? Except that in 10 years it will be totally broke. That is not me saying that. That is not some evil Tea Party Republican saying that. That is Democratic Senator Dick Durbin saying that in July of 2011.

            Also Doctors are not exactly fighting each other over Medicare patients.


            • Alan, Medicare needs reform, serious reform. No way would I suggest that we just leave it as it is. HOWEVER, if the insurance pool included younger well people, that would go a long way toward fixing the problem.

              As for Doctors – very few doctors don’t take Medicare patients. Very few. I’m on it as are most of my friends nad much family.. We have ALWAYS been able to see whomever we want. My parents were on it for over 30 years – they were never turned down. Doctors and hospitals around here advertise for Medicare patients. So that’s something of a myth.


    • I’m still so incensed at the deliberate way Single-payer advocates were shut out from the ‘grand gathering’ of ‘all stakeholders’ prior to design of the ACA that I cannot ‘get on board with it’, (except to be pleased that for a portion of the population it will bring needed care cost relief.) But that’s one of the bits that sticks in my craw – “a portion”.

      Furthermore, it was Obama himself – so far as I know – who arbitrarily shut out Single-payer advocates. That S-P wouldn’t have been ‘politically feasible’ is no excuse for not letting the supporting data be presented in an official and very publicly promoted forum. The alternative Public Option was raised so quickly, then as quickly dropped, that I wonder if it wasn’t intended to temporarily ‘shut up’ Single-payer voices who continued to speak, regardless of being shut out.

      I think a “not feasible” justification for denying the public an airing of Single-payer benefits (to individuals as well as to the entire economy, all communities, all businesses) was based on “corporatist” pressure more than on concern about stirring ultra-conservative ire. I’ve yet to be convinced that the corporatist pressure I suggest is considered a problem by Obama. “The Commons” – the very concept of common weal that should underpin a thriving society in all essentials – seems under full siege to me. The only difference between what’s going on now and what happened during assorted early Enclosure laws is that shutting villagers out of the forests was ‘easier to actually see’. I don’t get any idea that Obama (or most legislators) have a clue about ‘the commons’ as an essential ingredient.

      Sorry for a bit of a rant – I’m not replying to anyone here so much as taking advantage of your post to sound off. I read viewer comments on ACA media articles and they continue scrapping with one another about who ‘deserves’ health care. There is nothing said about “we’re all in this together so let’s support one another” – perhaps because we’re still categorized by gender, age, and other divisive ideas; and perhaps because a whole lot of people won’t qualify for any coverage in any case!

      I’m so disappointed!!


      • Boy maggie, that single payer option sure did evaporate fast. No one even mentions it anymore. That argument really never even got out to the vast majority of Americans.

        You’re absolutely right about the ‘commons’ being under assault. That’s sadly been the case for 30+ years now . . . the Right will never give up on trying to undo Social Security and Medicare. And forget nutrition programs . . . I guess they think kids should find their own food.

        As for corporations . . . I’d say increasingly we are actually living in a corporatist state. And those very powerful corporations that have such sway over our government are themselves stateless and utterly amoral.

        By the way, I’m glad you bring your rants here!!


  4. In America you are to be praised for horrific deficits that look good only because they are compared to even worse deficits that you previously ran up. Only in America. What a great country.

    Why did you guys ever complain about the debt that Reagan and Bush ran up? Obviously the amount of debt a country runs up doesn’t matter. Since we are throwing around irrelevant facts to muddy the waters of clarity, what is the largest denomination legal tender note in the World, for now? The 100-Trillion-dollar bill. What country? No, not the USA. Not yet. Where can you get a 100-Trillion-dollar bill? Zimbabwe, what a great country. Collectors now pay about $5 for them, which is far more than they were worth in circulation.

    Debt ceiling raised 3 times under Obama. Only in America are the times the debt ceiling is raised deemed more important than the actual amount that the debt is increased. America under Obama, what a great country.


    • @Alan Scott

      Obviously the amount of debt a country runs up doesn’t matter.

      So why weren’t you complaining when Regan and Bush were running up the debt? I’m guess because going to war and pumping up the military industrial complex is *good* debt. Getting debt to help Americans is *bad* debt. They have bootstraps for emergencies right?


      • The Arbourist,

        You leave out relevant facts in making your argument. First relevant fact, liberals whined about the Reagan and Bush deficits. Which I agree were very bad, Now having taken that stand, they are just fine with the Obama debt. And that Obama debt makes every deficit that came before look like nothing. So they are hypocrites.

        I know the lessons of history. It did not begin the day I was born. I believe money spent killing the enemies of my country to be a wise investment. Much better than the vote buying, dependence creating, spending that Obama, inc and his henchmen engage in. You know, the kind of stuff that sank the once great city of Detroit.

        I thank you for the chance to reply to your concerns. You don’t often answer my posts, so I am honored.


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  6. Yes, a certain amount of debt is normal. It’s even healthy, depending upon who holds the debt. The problem now is the type of debt and who holds the note.

    Also, if you look at your chart, you’ll see that, by and large, it’s the Dems who run up that debt the most.


    • jonolan, I don’t see any such thing.


      • Moe, look at your chart. It clearly shows that the rate of rise in debt over any time period is directly proportionate to how many Dems are in Congress.


        • Which means the debt of 2011, 2012 and 2013 may be attributed to the Republican congress . . . but the GWB debt can be attributed entirely to the tax cuts and the two wars, which were that president’s initiatives.

          Got a chart tracking the various congresses and the corresponding rises in debt?


  7. I wonder how long the entire economy has been running on debt – has required debt in order to keep expansion/exploitation steaming right along.

    For ordinary citizens, it’s my impression that taking on consumer debt was vigorously encouraged post WW2, about the same time that planned obsolescence was an equally inspired idea to keep manufacturing profits rolling in. (Once we didn’t need so many tanks … how can washing machines and cars become the new factory product?) Perfect that television made its debut at the same time, which gave a great boost to the equally perfect new industry of ‘psychologically based’ advertising!

    It seems to me a number of factors in our national and global economic practices are based on a belief that ‘a specific economic system’ is a ‘natural law’, and that we humans are helpless to change the design. If some must starve while others wallow in abundance; if earth itself must be stripped naked and toxified – so be it. I keep thinking we (humanity) are overlooking some obvious clues that “same old, same old” – which might have appeared to work for a thousand years – will eventually fail in spectacular misery.

    A key reason it appeared to work was that we weren’t aware of how colonization worked, weren’t aware of thousands slaughtered to ‘secure interests’ of the colonizers, weren’t aware of our fellow beings crawling about in mines in remote corners – all while we congratulated ourselves on our growing freedom and prosperity. Internet and global communication allow us to be informed.

    I’m not sure what the ‘new design’ should look like but I don’t see how debt, and expand/exploit can serve humanity any longer. A short term answer is *not*, it seems to me, to refuse “entitlements” of ordinary citizens while maintaining and even increasing “entitlements” of the worshiped financial masters. (Not saying you’re suggesting any such thing – this is my 2nd lengthy comment in this discussion of Moe’s post. I think about this stuff all the time and, like The Arbourist, I watch in “horrified amazement”.)


    • I’m completely with you in spirit, Maggie, but I think Big O is probably a better politician than we are. Me at least. “Socialized Medicine” is still a dirty word in this country, albeit less polemic than “ObamaCare”, which is somewhere in political limbo. The unfortunate truth is that most people’s understanding of the healthcare conundrum doesn’t extend past bumper-sticker slogans.


      • Thanks, Jim, for hearing. I’d not feel so betrayed IF Single-Payer advocates had been seated at the “all stakeholders conference”. IF, after hearing data, the public insisted it wasn’t interested, I’d feel they’d at least have been given the information – perhaps despite media’s attempts to avoid full airing of single-payer advantages. Furthermore, even if public had rejected Single-payer, seeds of possibility would have been planted. I feel like the entire project of public getting beyond bumper-sticker level understanding has made little progress. The stakeholder conference was a rare opportunity to do an end run around media silence.

        I live in a rural “tea-party” political region, yet when I list a few key advantages of single-payer in casual conversation, (based on my Canadian experience), very few object. Rather – if I’m speaking to ordinary hard working folk, jaws drop as if it’s brand new information. All I have to say is “no deductibles, no co-pays, no bankruptcies, choice of doctor, approx. half the cost, and everyone from street dweller to banker, infant to elderly, is covered”. For good measure I often add “doctors own their practices and earn good incomes”. The people I speak to are unaware of these ‘small details’!

        Ah well! 🙂


        • Whether I agree with them or not (I do), Single-Payer was determined not to be salable to the American people at large. Only a small minority would even entertain the thought.

          Think of it this way and it’ll make more sense. Single-Payer is like Polygamy. Just as “it’ll lead to Polygamy” was used against queer marriage, “It’s just a first step towards Single-Payer” was used against Obamacare. Once something is in the category of something that something already “bad” will lead to it’s over and done with.

          BTW – You’re conveniently leaving out all the bad parts of S-P in your explanations, both the generic problems and the problems that would arise if America in particular adopted it.


          • Thanks for the feedback. I didn’t leave ‘warts’ of Canada’s system out for convenience. In ‘real time’ discussion, I volunteer these as part of my ‘spiel’ and am aware of many. (But the ‘wait’ time has been way way overplayed! I’ve occasionally waited and it never bothered me a bit that someone with a more life-threatening condition came first! Nor have I heard this as a common complaint among regular Canadians – in fact, I’ve never heard it at all; but recognize it could be an issue in some cases. Provinces are responsible for management and at one time Ontario was reputed to have management issues that meant greater wait times. Don’t know present situation but hear no complaints from BC.)

            I thought about mentioning my ‘warts spiel’ as I posted but it seemed my post was long enough, and the point I wanted to make was that I speak to people who simply have no clue. These are local, ‘untraveled’ people, hard working. I think maybe they’ve lived in a ‘closed box’ with a particular system for several decades so lack details that would help them imagine a much less costly, cooperative, approach to assuring care to everyone.

            I’ve ‘accidentally’ picked up experience in the US prior to the present system, (worked in a US Midwestern small city hospital for a string of summers in hs and college, very much a cooperative ‘community of care’ experience); then spent 40 years in Canada (again, very much a ‘feel’ of cooperation to assure care), then returned to the US, (very much a culture of anxiety, blame, anger, debilitations unaddressed, and a certain “I’m all right Jack” comfort among those with good employee or senior coverage.) I couldn’t believe premium costs paid by some who purchased individual coverage, especially if anyone in the family had needed serious care in the past. (These were mostly small business operators.) The US system and how it was experienced by citizens, covered or not, was something of a culture shock!

            History of development in Canada includes many of the same anti-arguments prior to Saskatchewan’s model demonstrating what is possible — states as models would probably be a much more likely route for universal care development in the US. … Not my original idea. When I think of the Canadian costs of distance and climate, I feel sure the US has resources to meet or surpass what Canada has done. Including everyone at approx half the cost is pretty impressive, to me at least.

            Thanks again!


  8. I have always maintained that countries do NOT have to have balanced budgets and they don’t….
    They print the money…..
    They MUST pay for certain unforseen things…..

    Of Course that Debt should NEVER be above level….
    But countiies are NOT like you and me and our check book….


    • And your belief in- and acceptance of that is, since your belief is quite common, part of the problem, Jim. Shouldn’t countries treat their finances a bit more like you and me and our check book?

      BTW – That would necessarily include any spending that I would prefer as well, e.g., defense spending.


      • james is absolutely right. Like businesses large and small, countries must have debt to function. Alexander Hamilton understood this in 1787, which is why the US has carried debt for most of its existence.

        So no jonolan, countries most definitely should NOT treat their finances like you and me.


        • Let me add, almost every country in the world carries debt. And james point about the fact that countries PRINT their money is also very relevant.


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