Monday, July 17, 2006

U.S. going bankrupt?

What? With "conservatives" running the Congress and presidency? Why, how can that be? (pausing...) OK, you can stop laughing/crying now. On to the column by the libertarian blog The Hammer of Truth:
Well, now that oil is going for $78 a barrel, this report isn’t really surprising (via Robot Wisdom):
A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. “To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors,” he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds".
It seems not all is lost, if people start voting for someone other than the current crop of fiscally irresponsible bobble-heads:
Paul Ashworth, of Capital Economics, was more sanguine [...] "This can be contained if the political will is there. Similarly, the expected increase in social security spending can be controlled by reducing the growth rate of benefits. Expecting a fix now is probably asking too much of short-sighted politicians who have no incentives to do so. But a fix, or at least a succession of patches, will come when the problem becomes more pressing."
Sure, the problem can be contained "if the political will is there"! And Bill Clinton's desire for portly knee-padded interns can be contained if his will is there!