Posts Tagged ‘bailout’

When RINOs Attack

July 29, 2011

THE DUNCEPHANT — Proud symbol of the compassionate conservative, big-tent, self-defeating, Stupid Party

Let me see if I understand the criticism from those on the nominal right who support the Boehner Two-Step:

1) Anyone who opposes Boehner is supporting Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Schumer, et al., because they oppose it, too.

2) Cut, Cap and Balance failed to get a vote in the Senate, so the House has to pass something the Senate will like.

3) Republicans will be blamed for default, for Social Security checks and VA benefit checks not being issued, and for the downgrade of US credit, among other things, if Boehner’s latest mutation doesn’t get out of the House.

There are other criticisms, but these are the big ones.

1) Anyone against Boehner must support Obama, Reid, Pelosi, sexually transmitted diseases and Karl Marx.

Is this supposed to be an argument worthy of mega-brains like Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol? Guilt by association?

The small-government right opposes Boehner because it is a capitulation. It grants Obama nearly a trillion dollars of immediate spending authorization, and razor-thin, ephemeral spending cuts.

The big government left opposes Boehner because they have been told to, by their ideological leaders, and because even phantom spending reductions threaten their eternal right to buy votes with taxpayers’ money, and they will fight like rabid raccoons against anyone or anything that threatens that practice.

The pathetic spending cuts, history has shown anyone who cares, won’t happen, because current Congresses can’t obligate future Congresses. And, even if they could, so what? When have laws or obligations stopped big government from doing what it wants? When the people driving the policy think the Constitution is “flawed,” because it is a document of “negative liberties,” what’s to stop them? If Congress won’t allow it, find a judge who will. What will the RINOs do? “Well, it’s settled law,” they will say, and go back to their perpetual election campaigns.

2) The Senate didn’t “like” CC&P, so the House has to pass something Reid & Co. will “friend.”

As the establishment Republican critics often say, CC&B didn’t even get a vote in the Senate. To that I say, so what? The Senate is controlled by Democrats, and collaborating RINOs. Is anyone really surprised that CC&B didn’t get a vote?

Do the establishment Republicans above somehow think Boehner 3.x could get through the Senate as anything but a shell, gutted and carved up like a Halloween pumpkin, and filled with progressive and socialist candy? And that is only if demented clown Reid lets it get that far.

And then, what? The Boehner pumpkin zombie bill goes back to the House. House members with 0.5 brain or more vote it down, and the Media/White House axis brand the House Republicans as obstructionists. Is there ANYTHING about this outcome that is not utterly predictable?

3) Republicans will be blamed for financial ruin, the starvation of the elderly and babies, the deaths of polar bears, and the cake falling, if they don’t get behind Boehner 3.x.

Republicans, as the Elephantine Establishmentarians never tire of lecturing us, only have one-half of one branch of the legislature, which is one-third of the government. Yes, I read that somewhere. And, by the way, that’s wrong. Republicans do NOT have one-half of the House.

They have a clear majority, if they ever decide to vote together, which is considerably more than 1/2 of 1/2 of 1/3. If the leadership had principle in mind, rather than obscure gamesmanship and obsolete reelection strategies,  they would use that majority to pass legislation that is clearly right for the country, and not what “might” pass the Democrat Senate.

They should get the message out that they are doing what the Constitution not only allows, but compels them to do. And they should let the chips fall where they may. Those who are unable, or unwilling to do that, should be encouraged to find jobs in lobby shops and universities, where they will be in more forgiving, less demanding environments.

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“Elections shouldn’t matter,” BUT THEY DO.

April 14, 2011

"A stopped clock is right twice a day." Pelosi managed to do it once.

To my Republican friends: take back your party. So that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election, because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Because there are so many things at risk right now — perhaps in another question I’ll go into them, if you want. But the fact is that elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do…But when it comes to a place where there doesn’t seem to be shared values then that can be problematic for the country, as I think you can see right now.

—  Nancy Pelosi, deposed Speaker of the House, in a speech at Tufts University, week of April 10, 2011

Nancy’s successor to the Speaker’s chair probably agrees with her on that statement.

John Boehner is probably thinking, “Yes, if it hadn’t been for those pesky Tea Party rubes and hicks, we’d be playing musical chairs up here in the Capitol, every few years, looking busy, but not accomplishing much of anything. We’d go on collecting our paychecks and benefits. All the while, we’d be shuffling toward that luxuriant retirement we have legislated for ourselves. In the meantime — on both sides of the aisle, as they say around here – we’d be basking in the glory and perks that come with our offices.

“We’d make the occasional visit back to the district, like those visits the folks dragged us along for when we were kids, to Old Aunt Whatsername’s house out in the boondocks, when we were supposed to act nice and not break anything.

“We go to town meetings and pretend to care about the constituents as they blather on about the ‘Constitution,’ and ‘fiscal responsibility,’ and ‘Get us out of the UN,’ and all that other stuff. All the time, though, we’re daydreaming about a visit to the House gym, or the cafeteria, or the posh dinners with lobbyists, or the photo ops with celebrities and foreign dignitaries, or the ‘fact-finding missions’ to resort towns, and thinking, ‘I can’t believe they’re PAYING me for this crap. What a country! Nancy’s right. This was such a great gig, before the damn Tea Party came along and screwed things up.’”

The only startling things about the quote from Madame Pelosi at the top of this post are (1) that it is true; and (2) that it was made public — if only because somebody in her audience recorded it and published it. Yes, the 2010 election does seem to have mattered, although perhaps not as much as some of us wish.

The “shared values” of the careerists in Washington, both donkeys and elephants, are threatened, but not by the yawning chasm of national insolvency.

No, that’s no big deal.

The real threat, Nancy and the Tan Man agree, is the Tea Party. The DC-rooted hacks in Congress, of both parties, still want to run things according to the old status quo.

They may not stop trying until they are handed pink slips.

Until then, they need to get hammered unmercifully by those rubes and hicks in their districts, or they will continue to do as the Stupid Party is wont to do, over the last forty years — snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Catch some more RINOs in the primary election filter, and beat some donkeys in their own, fouled nests. Cause a glut of applicants for K-Street lobbyist jobs, university “lecturer-drone” chairs and appointments to third-tier ambassadorships.

Elections shouldn’t matter, BUT THEY DO. RINOs and Donkeys, update your resumes.

Hey, Stupid Party! Anybody Home, in There?

March 30, 2011

“Give us money, so we can re-elect spineless leaders to ignore you until next election.”

I just got an email from the RNC, begging for money, again. I get them all the time, but, as I sometimes do, I will respond to this one in an “open letter” format.

The immediate trigger for this open letter was reading the following paragraph:

Nothing would make The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Huffington Post happier than printing articles in April that the Republican Party is finished because the RNC’s Federal Election Commission first quarter report showed us lagging behind in donations from our nationwide network of conservative grassroots supporters.

Herein we find one of the stupidest things the Stupid Party believes: That we should give a damn what The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Huffington Post thinks.

A pathetic and pointless desire for approval from these left-leaning media hacks is one of the most glaring weaknesses of the Stupid Party “leadership.” This “leadership” has brought us to this precipice, over which is a socialist autocracy in which the Constitution is an irrelevant, historical curiosity.

If the “leadership” had rejected the $105 Billion land mine in the continuing resolution that funds the implementation of the obscenity known as Obamacare; if it had rejected the taxpayer subsidy for killing unborn children to be handed to Planned Parenthood; if it had rejected taxpayer funding of the government’s left-wing propaganda organ, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, there might be a whisper of a chance I would give the RNC a dime.

Of course, none of that happened. The “leadership” in the House won’t even come down firmly in favor of not raising the debt limit – let alone on introducing the kinds of spending cuts that would really make a difference in the long run, and that would signal to American taxpayers and the world that there is any seriousness about getting us out of debtor-nation slavery.

What sorts of cuts am I talking about? How about defunding Obamacare, the Department of Education, the EPA’s “cap and trade” scam, the FCC’s initiative to regulate the Internet and shut down talk radio, all foreign aid to countries that routinely fund terrorism and discriminate against Christians, and – yes, I’m saying it – the Cowboy Poetry Festival. That is just a tiny percentage of the wasteful and self-destructive government activity we can do without.

Individual Republican candidates may see some small change from me, if there is any left over after buying gas and inflated groceries, but RNC, don’t hold your breath.

If you care so much about what The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Huffington Post think, ask them for money.

It’s Not the Marketing, Democrats, It’s the Product. SOCIALISM STINKS!

November 4, 2010
New, Improved Socialism!!

NEW! IMPROVED! BUY NOW, OR JUMP IN MASS GRAVE!

Those of us above a certain age remember when TV ads trumpeted a “new, improved” cereal or dish detergent. All the proof we had of newness or improvement was the package, which had new, snazzy colors and maybe a cool, new shape. Sure enough, the words, “NEW!” and “IMPROVED!” are there, right on the label.

Of course the new product often came with a new, improved, higher price.

When we opened the new, improved package, we often found the same, old product inside, or an old product with irrelevant tweaks and tunes that left us with same ole’ same ole’. The marketing department obviously ran the show in these enterprises, and the product research and development department was AWOL or irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter whose picture you put on the box – Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot — socialism is a failed product that has been repackaged countless times over the last 150 years. It has never worked, and despite a death toll of well over a hundred million innocent people in a seemingly endless series of ruthless and bloody “marketing campaigns,” it keeps coming back.

The latest attempt at socialism, advanced by Democrats and RINOs, is a hideous parade of defective products:  Obamacare, Government Motors, Cap and Tax, and union pension bailouts, to name but a few. President Obama, in a post-mid-term election presser intended to explain away the blunt rejection of the same old product with his latest packaging, stubbornly refused to understand the meaning of the election results.

The problem, he said, was with the message. It was just bad marketing.

As the Gipper famously said, “There you go, again.”

No, Dear Leader, the problem isn’t the marketing. The product – socialism — stinks, has always stunk, and always will stink. No amount of marketing, packaging, promotion, rebates, coupons or discounts will sell socialism, because it is an inherently defective product.

Socialist regimes always have to threaten their customers with death or imprisonment to get them to buy it, and they inevitably have to carry out those threats, if their regimes last long enough.

Whether or not it is imported from China, socialism is easily broken into sharp-edged, poisonous choking hazards, and ultimately, it is a threat to health, safety and, especially, to freedom.

It’s not new, it’s not improved, and we aren’t buying.

Begging for Money, and Pretending to Care What Conservatives Think — The Latest RNC “Republican Party Census Document”

July 30, 2009

I’d like to thank the Republican National Committee for inspiring this post.

Yes, I got another of their “surveys,” today. They must not pay much attention to the ones people send back unless they also contain a donation, which mine have not for about a decade.

Just so the RNC knows I’m not just spouting off on somebody else’s “census,” here’s my survey’s special, secret registration number:

051680-790130

509576472

I’d give you my individually-issued “Voter District Code,” but I’d have to kill you.

I can only stand to plod through a few representative questions, because so many of them are focused on the trivial, while ignoring the monstrous. My replies, all of which go well beyond the largely meaningless “yes” or “no” options, follow each question.

Now, on to the “census document”!

ECONOMIC ISSUES

1) Should we unite as a party to oppose President Obama’s huge tax increase on the American people, particularly the new tax on dividends, capital gains and small businesses?

As much as I would like to help out those who receive dividends, et al, I am really more concerned about the free-fall path to a socialist dictatorship the Republican “leadership” has offered to Obama, by lying down and letting him and the Democrats walk over them like a cheap doormat.

This passive acceptance of socialism and wholesale violation of the Constitution (heard of it, Republicans?) got a real boost under “your” President, George W. Bush, and would have continued under McCain.

Remember the Bush prescription drug welfare program – up to then, the biggest single expansion of government spending since LBJ? Remember “No Child Left Behind,” taking an already-invalid public education system and saddling it with a huge backpack full of federal mandates and no way to pay for them? Gross negligence on securing our national borders? Micromanaging (and largely handcuffing) the military in Iraq and elsewhere? And, as a last hurrah, how about that financial sector bailout, courtesy of George W. Bush, the “compassionate conservative?”

With that for recent history, who could be surprised that Republicans in Congress have rolled over and let Obama put the wholesale government violations of the Constitution into overdrive? Has it escaped your notice, RNC,  that Obama has nationalized two auto manufacturers, and appointed 30-some “czars” – unconstitutional, unaccountable, un-vetted and unqualified in any respect other than as cronies of The One — to run nearly every aspect, of our economy and personal lives?  Why haven’t you Republicans walked out of Congress in protest, and gathered en masse on the Capitol steps to declare you would be no part of such an outrage? If you did, I missed it. The last time you showed that much backbone was during the “Drill here, drill now” campaign, which was encouraging, but oh, so brief.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

Is the Republican National Committee so morally bankrupt, cowardly, so self-serving and/or so terminally stupid that it needs to be TOLD to oppose illegal immigration, “card check,” trial lawyer welfare, a taxpayer-funded, Obama-worshiping  corps of  brainwashed, brownshirt thugs, and the “fairness doctrine” censorship program for all media, including the Internet?

Okay, that isn’t an actual question, but it should have been. Unfortunately, the short answer is, “Yes.” Over the last hundred years, it has become obvious that Republicans include a large contingent of progressives who share Woodrow Wilson’s and Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s goal of weakening the United States and its fundamental principles to the point of irrelevance, so that it can be absorbed into a transnational government.

From Theodore Roosevelt right through John McCain, Republican “leaders” have been leading us over a cliff into subservience to the UN or its equivalent, by promoting a politically-driven court system, an irrelevant, emasculated legislative branch, and real power concentrated in an enormous, unelected bureaucracy.

At least, Obama was honest when he told a campaign audience in Missouri, days before the election, that he was going to “transform this country.” That is just what he is doing. He is making more of what the progressives call “progress” toward transforming the United States of America into a post-Constitution, socialist pseudo-democracy in months, on its way to becoming a communist dictatorship, than his most ambitious predecessors made in nearly a century.

The Republicans, meanwhile, grouse and pout about his methods, and wonder what will be left of the multinational corporations to which they have traded their souls for cushy lobbying jobs after they earn their cushy Congressional retirements. Will the big bucks still be there by the time they resign, or Congress is dissolved by executive order, or they are voted out of office by a contingent of ACORN thugs and illegal aliens, or…

FAMILY AND SOCIAL ISSUES

[Let me paraphrase and condense, for brevity]: Should Republicans allow Obama, Reid and Pelosi to pack the supreme court with liberal sock puppets, force taxpayers to finance abortions overseas, and allow partial birth abortion at home?

Sure, why not? Isn’t that what Republicans would have done if John McCain had accidentally won the election? And the loyal Republican base would be looking around, befuddled, wondering how this happened, and who is to blame.

HOMELAND SECURITY ISSUES

Are you (the former Republican voter, in my case) in favor of gutting the Patriot Act, and other […] laws that promote the safety and security of all Americans, blah, blah, blah?

Does it matter? We conservatives and Constitutionalists were in favor of a border fence, and it hasn’t been built. We still have the most porous border of any supposedly sovereign nation on earth, with thousands of illegals every week, including criminals and terrorists, pouring across like a continuous tidal wave.

Our Border Patrol agents are afraid to pick a place to go to lunch without the advice of an attorney, for fear of being blindsided by their administrators, or an Obama political operative. Bush gave them the back of his hand, as well. Ask former agents Ramos and Compean. Where was the RNC during that outrage?

We were adamantly and vocally opposed to laws that would allow illegal immigrants to stay and flourish on the taxpayers’ dime, and the titular leader of the Republicans was and is still promoting such laws.

Our troops are similarly hamstrung by stupid and self-defeating Defense Department policies, but the Obama administration is considering bringing the troops home to keep us in line, in the event of an emergency. What do you want to bet the civil rights hacks and community activists will be nowhere to be found when the troops get orders to bang on our doors and confiscate privately-owned firearms in some real, or ginned-up, national emergency?

Or, will that be left to Obama’s brownshirts, trained in “summer camps” at taxpayers’ expense to go out and throw their weight around, while the Republican Congressional leadership makes Elmer Fudd noises about being “vewy, vewy careful” with the civil rights of unfavored classes?

Are you in favor of air strikes against nations that harbor terrorists, and space-based missile defense?

Will any defense system ever get out of Congress without political and international law restraints so tight as to render it useless? Will Republicans care enough to do anything beyond casting safe, timid votes, and shrugging their shoulders in resignation when the Democrats bury them under procedural maneuvers? Will the Obama administration ever sign off on any air strike that doesn’t take out Israel or Taiwan? Not before consulting with Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, certainly. In other words, all questions about defense policy are moot.

FINALLY, THE INEVITABLE APPEAL FOR MONEY

I would go on, but I can’t stand it anymore. Besides, about all that’s left is the appeal for money, which was the point of the mailing in the first place. If I can’t give them $500, how about giving them $250? Hah.

Their last stand is, “However, I have enclosed $12 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.” Shoot, if they can’t tabulate a stinking survey for a lot less than $12, they’re no better qualified to govern than the Democrats. But, we already knew that, didn’t we?

Besides, they’ll ignore the results and go with the path of least resistance anyway, so, what’s the point? I’d rather set a pile of money on fire, or spend it on a much more worthwhile cause, like buying somebody a copy of The 5000 Year Leap.

I’d buy the RNC a clue, but, talk about a waste of time and money….

“If the kid next door jumped off a bridge, would you?”

December 20, 2008

Somebody named Stephen Collins, a lobbyist for the auto industry (his title is actually, “President, Automotive Trade Policy Council,” but I feel comfortable in calling him a lobbyist), wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, this week. He was responding to a WSJ editorial of December 6, which was critical of the then-proposed auto industry bailout.

His argument is that several states’ legislatures  have given preferential treatment to foreign automakers to relocate in their states. These big favors are often in the form of tax breaks that add up to hundreds of thousands of tax dollars per job created, according to Collins, and that’s why we shouldn’t wince too much at giving GM, Chrysler and Ford a “bridge loan” that they probably, or maybe, will pay back.

Ah, yes, the “two wrongs make a right” argument. AKA, the “But Mom, all the other kids in second grade are going to the nude drug sex party at Barack’s house!” argument. If that argument works here, where does it end? Just because government did one, or a hundred unconstitutional and stupid things, does that make it OK for them to do a hundred more?

Let’s get real.

If our tax structure weren’t rigged to punish success, choke business, feed government-addicted voters and get career political hacks re-elected again and again, we wouldn’t need to offer tax incentives, or any other kind of corporate welfare, to get people to build factories and make things. Foreign manufacturers would be elbowing each other in the ribs to be first in line to build factories here. Groups of American investors would get together and build manufacturing plants, and cars would advance in quality and decline in cost the way personal computers have over the past twenty years.

There would be hundreds of car brands, in thousands of different models and configurations. A company that made junk would be out of the market in months, or reincarnated (hah) quickly with new management and new ideas to get new market share. Innovators would take advantage of the advances in carbon composites for light, strong bodies, and high-tech alloys for fuel-sipping engines. Emerging battery technology and increasingly efficient electric motors would give internal combustion engines a run for their money, and entirely new powerplants would challenge both.

Have a look at the early history of the US auto industry, before the Big Three, when dozens of car manufacturers were springing up around the country.  Factories that had made stage coaches and carriages began to build the first horseless carriages. They ranged in cost and complexity from spindly, one-lungers with no suspension and wooden seats, to magnificent, motorized living rooms and land yachts like the Auburn, Cord and Deusenberg.

Economic downturns and and an increasingly grasping and power-hungry federal government, spawning the federal income tax and an exploding cancer of regulation, and not the market failure of individual products, brought about the consolidation of this raucus, cutthroat competition into three lumbering, and eventually, clumsy and inefficient behemoths.

Add to the mix the rise of the United Auto Workers Union, which became a parallel management structure in all three businesses, with its own greedy bureaucracy and sacred cows to feed, and you have the recipe for the current disaster.

What will “bridge loans,” or bailouts, or whatever you want to call them — huge sacks of money, confiscated by threat of force by government, from people foolish enough to work for a living, do to change this situation?

Nothing. Nothing short of a revolution will restore the American entrepreneurial spirit and economic freedom that gave birth to the automotive boom of the beginning of the last century.  May it happen soon.

Olbermann’s Flatulent Rap on Those “$70 an Hour Autoworkers”

December 6, 2008

Keith Olbermann is an ignorant blowhard and an Obama sycophant, so nobody should really waste any time on what he has to say (and the great majority  of us don’t), but he set me off with this rant, which has been memorialized, not surprisingly, on uaw.org. Understand, I never watch PMSNBSNPR, or wherever he hangs out, but this article was pointed out to me by my brother, a retired GM electrician, who is following the whole bailout scene with understandable interest.

In what I understand is typical Olbermanic fashion, Herr Olbermann sets up a straw dog, and bravely, forthrightly,  righteously, knocks it down. He claims some awful, mean people said UAW autoworkers make “$70 an hour,”  thanks to the idiotic and self-destructive contracts between the Big Three auto companies and the United Auto Workers over the years.

I never heard anyone claim the $70 (or $72, I heard that, too) was any autoworker’s hourly wage.  The way I heard it was that $70/hr. was their COST to their employer in wages, plus all the bennies, plus what GM was paying the job bank employees to braid their nose hairs, get Masters Degrees in Underwater Basketweaving, etc., plus, plus, plus — averaged among the workers who are actually, or allegedly,  involved in building cars. (Parenthetically, I wonder how much it is if you add in all the union execs make, and will retire on, plus the union lawyers, lobbyists, thugs, arm-twisters and car scratchers, plus their political contributions and bribes to every Democrat since Carter that’s run for president…)

Thing is, thanks to the lowlifes at the top at GM, and the lowlifes at the top at the UAW, working together to screw everybody else in the world blind for decades, and set themselves up to retire like Saudi royalty in the process  — plus a great deal of help from the regulators and taxwriters at the federal government — it costs too damn much to make cars at UAW plants.  Since they can’t get people to pay what a car costs, plus some profit, they are on the ropes.

It’s not exactly baffling that it turned out that way.

I want Olbermann (or anybody at the UAW Website, for that matter) to explain how a taxpayer-funded “bridge loan” (oh, sure, they’ll pay it back, wink-wink) is going to make things any different.

If a lot of people take cuts in pay and benefits, and some people get laid off, and some people start paying more of their own health care costs, and the unions stop collecting dues so line workers get to keep more of what they make to pay for their own health care (har, har, snort), they can reduce the cost of building a car. Can they design and build cars that people want to buy, at a cost they are willing to pay? Will billions in tax money make that happen?

Will workers with the “GM attitude” (we who grew up in the Midwest’s GM culture know what that means) stop being dead weights, ghost employees, drunks and saboteurs, and start working as if their jobs depended, to some tiny degree, on their productivity? Oooh. That’s a big one. That might take a few more billions.

Would any of the above be more likely to happen after a tax-funded bailout? Or is it more likely after a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization that throws everything back on the table and everybody understands they either make it work, or take a walk?

Chrysler got a big bailout, back in the Carter era. Did it cause them to get lean and mean, and start kicking Japanese and European carmaker ass? Apparently not. They’re in line to climb in Uncle Santa Claus’s lap again, and whisper their wish lists in his ear, this time joined by Ford and GM.

Courtesy of TIME Magazine, August 24, 1979, here’s a little refresher on the last time a bailout was tried on a Big Three automaker:

“The Carter Administration decided last week that now was the time to come to the aid of the nation’s most beleaguered major company. After weeks of rising pressure for a federal fix for the multiplying problems of Chrysler Corp., Treasury Secretary G. William Miller produced—and Jimmy Carter approved —a Government bailout. It was designed to prevent the nation’s No. 3 automaker (1978 sales: $13.6 billion) from sliding into a bankruptcy that could have put many thousands out of work and sent a shudder through U.S. financial markets.

“Beamed Chrysler Chairman John Riccardo ‘We are extremely encouraged. This fits the bill.’

[…]

“Treasury aides were understood to be thinking of $500 million to $750 million over a limited period.”

[…]

That’s $500 to $700 mil in 1979 dollars. Wonder what that would buy today, thirty years later? What did it buy, back then? It didn’t buy a solvent, successful, competitive Chrysler.

It’s thirty years later. Somebody, please tell me, why is this time different?

So, how much IS a trillion dollars, anyway?

November 26, 2008

“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money.”

The current mania for bailouts started with an up-front price tag of $700 billion.  That was just the beginning, of course.

US Senator Everett Dirsken is supposed to have uttered the quote above, but scholars at the Dirksen Congressional Center have been unable to confirm that. Since Dirksen was a Republican, and a fiscal conservative, in an era when much classier Senators represented Illinois in Washington, I rather doubt that he did.

You can sure hear a current senator from either party, or an economy wonk in either the incoming or outgoing administration saying that, though, can’t you?

The parade of needy parasites in search of a bailout gets longer every day. It was $700 billion at first, but we knew that was just a taste. The total liability the Bush administration has so far  (as of last night, November 26th, that is) squatted and dumped on us taxpayers has been estimated at $7 TRILLION, and that’s preliminary.

So, how much is $7 trillion, really, besides being “real money?” Is there a way to understand such a huge number, or are we stuck with trying to grasp a meaningless abstraction? Let’s try, anyway.

Don’t most of us working adults have a feel for how much money a thousand dollars is? What can you buy for $1000? I found a Sony, 50-inch plasma TV listed at Wal-Mart for $976.54. Close enough. Round up to $1000, and let’s get going. How much is a million dollars? A thousand, Sony, 50-inch plasma TVs.

I imagine you could get all of those in one, big railroad boxcar, if you packed ’em in real tight, wall to wall, and floor to ceiling.

How much is $100 million? It’s the payload in a hundred railroad boxcars, each of them loaded with 50-inch, plasma TVs. How long would a train of 100 boxcars, loaded with plasma TVs, take to pass you at a railroad crossing? If it’s moving right along, maybe, what —  five, ten minutes? And each car that rumbles past your windshield is carrying $1 million in plasma TVs, bought by taxpayers.

How much is a billion? It’s a thousand million. How about ten trains of a hundred boxcars each — a thousand boxcars, total — of $1000 plasma TVs? Can you picture sitting in front of those flashers and cross arms, watching ten, hundred-car trains — one billion dollars — going by?

How about a hundred billion? That’s a hundred, one-hundred-car trains of $1000 plasma TVs. If you’re stuck at this railroad crossing while these go by, you’d better be in an RV, with a full refrigerator and an empty toilet tank.

How much is a trillion? It’s a thousand billion. That’s a thousand, one-hundred-car trains, carrying what has to be most of the  world’s production of 50-inch plasma TVs.

$7 trillion in plasma TVs would have to be hauled in SEVEN THOUSAND, one-hundred-car trains. A 100-ton boxcar is about 70 feet long. A hundred-car train, without locomotives, would be about a mile and a half long. A fantasy train carrying $7 trillion worth of plasma TVs would be over 7500 miles long — long enough to tie up every crossing from Vancouver, BC, Canada, to the middle of Brazil, if the fantasy train track went that far in a straight line.

Remember, now — these plasma TVs were all bought with money confiscated by threat of violence from US taxpayers, present and future. They will be distributed by government employees who don’t care what those taxpayers think about their methods.

If the distribution is as efficient as a government venture usually is, over half of the TVs will be lost, stolen, broken or given to people in Third World countries who live in mud huts without electricity, who think TV is unholy, and who hate the United States because it is The Great Satan. The latter recipients will trade their TVs at the local bazaar for AK-47s and explosives with which to kill Western aid workers and blow up US embassies.

Now, do you have a better idea of what “real money” is?

All aboard the bailout express! Have your tickets ready.