dear children,

I think we’re sorry for what we’ve done to you. I say “think” because I don’t believe that most Americans have any idea what’s going on right now.

We’re sorry that we’re sandbagging you with massive amounts of debt that will likely reduce your standard of living. Someone called it “indentured slavery”. They might not be far off.

What the hell am I talking about?

Most of us have heard about the current sub-prime crisis, housing values dropping, the gov’t having to take on debts incurred by the private sector. But other than getting that this is likely a bad thing, it can be hard to grasp what this all really, practically means.

In real terms, we might have just increased our total national debt by 50% by guaranteeing Fannie and Freddie. Why does this matter? Because our debt per working person in this country works itself out to be somewhere around $60,000 a person.

No, I didn’t mistype that.

Read this NY Times op-ed.

I’m horrified by just how many people think everything is OK with our economy. How many think everything is OK because we Β spend a lot of money (ie., # of cars on the road, housing sizes, total consumer consumption.). The problem is that this is all symptomatic of the disease which we’re in danger of dying from. We’ve borrowed massively from the rest of the world (and from what we would consider the poorer nations of the world, to boot) to finance our decades of prosperity. Then, in a bizarre turn of logic, we point to that borrowed prosperity as a sign that everything is OK. It’s as if we we were parents, and our teenager worked at McDonalds, but thanks to her credit card, she drove a new Lexus, wore all designer clothing, and took fabulous vacations. When we’d try and explain that this just doesn’t work, and that problems are ahead, she’d say that we, “just don’t get it” and point to how well she was doing.

As Bill Gross pointed out in the letter he wrote to Obama a few weeks ago, the reckoning is coming. Our president in ’09 is going to have to choose to right the ship (incredibly painfully) or to continue as is, and ignore the problem. Either way, it sure looks pain is coming. Good luck, children of America.


P.S. This is essentially the overview material for the chapter in Forsaken, on fiscal crises.

5/27/13 –

20 Responses

  1. Farthead Zakaria would be proud!

    Must be something in the water in india that allows for first generation immigrants come to america and drone on about how doomed it is.

  2. You, my friend, are a piece of work.

    I'd be offended by all your stupid borderline-racist comments if I wasn't so flattered that you consistently comment so quickly after I post.

    Oh, and if Zakaria would be proud, I take that as a compliment. Just because he wasn't born here (and for the record, I was born in Pennsylvania), doesn't make him any less an American than you (and though this would shock you, I should say "you or me"). Our country was built as a nation of immigrants, and this has always been her greatest strength. So unless you're a Native American, I'm not sure where you get off talking trash about Zakaria, a naturalized American citizen (he came to America to go to Yale and then got his PhD from Harvard).

  3. Surya- yeah, I keep wondering about your "first commenter" as well…
    I agree the world isn't going to get any better. Just curious, will you be writing too about possible solutions from as the citizen, since you are the one undergoing these things?

  4. Oh good – I really hate it when most people criticize but never offer solutions. I'm really interested to read about your take on it all soon πŸ™‚
    (oh and apologies for my earlier phrase malfunction – my text-editing abilities seem to be failing me)

  5. The ironic thing is that Mike basically confirms that a lot of Americans are happily plodding along with blinders on, without even understanding the long-term implications of over-spending and too much credit, not to mention maintaining a not so pleasing stereotype of Americans. Being an optimist does not mean ignoring what is going on around you. It means understanding it, and doing what you can to make things better.


  6. Megan,

    Theres nothing to wonder about me sweety I love blondes and long walks on the beach and searching for my knickers early off in the morning so as to not awaken the aformentioned blondes.

    I sure hope yer a blonde!

    And yes please PLEASE stay tuned to Suryasays!!!!

    Cause much like Joesph Smith before him, he and only he knows the path to salvation and they will only offer you said salvation if you buy his new book!

    Now at the new reduced low low price of 3.84 at your local barnes and noble!!!

    Cause I mean trying to live your life by the good book and doing onto others as you would have them do unto you… is clearly not enough instead lets buy into the hysteria that the world is comign to and end and salvation lies only with those who can lead us to it…

    For the low low price of 3.84…


    I'm glad your appericative brother πŸ™‚ I'm the best thing to happen to your blog since your keyboard came along.

    First of there were no native born human beings on this land mass, everyone human being every to inhabit the landmass currently identified as the americas migrated here so unless you count yourself as one…

    Theres no such thing as a native american.

    I want to clarify that cause clearly thats your-hussienlapelpin-trump card since your place of birth had nothing to do with my comment but you felt so threatend to bring it right out to somehow justify your pontificating πŸ™‚

    Second just cause you swam over here to attend the same schools our glorious and righteous god fearing current president also attended, and unless you extend the same blanket respect to him as you do your hero farthead zakaria, please dont try to rationalize his moronic blatherings about the end of this great coutnries greatness to some how be more pointnet.

    Agaain im not so insecure in my thoughts or opinons to have to constantly throw on my harvent and yale lapel pin in hopes of people taking me more seoirus…

    And as such thats where I get off attacking farthead zakraria cuase aside from being the same kinda mariontte bush is he is even more of a vapid shallow becuase the moron has no intrest in the glory of the united states of america.

    He has his money friends in the UK his daddy and mommy are very well established in that shithole town in india…

    His entire existence is to be a puppet in order to get enough of the brainless idiots to get in line and start following him so that when you have enough numbers you can…


    How did you say it O' great Surya?

    ooh thats right…



    Let Farthead and Surya lead the way!!!!


    Lead on great leaders!!!! we shall obey and follow!

    Much luv kid πŸ™‚

    Now come with something good or dont come at all cuase if you cant handle me on the boards of your little website your not gonna do anything with yoru book but preach to the choir…

    But if you have more megans in your pews maybe I may just stfu and join after all…

    Joesph Smith was a poligmist

  7. Drunk on Patriotism baby!

    Again adhomin attacks aside come with something to refurt any points I made…

    Or maybe its just easier to label me a racisit, an american sterotype, nuts, drunk or hwatever soothes your ego πŸ™‚

  8. Surya,
    I sincerely feel sorry this kind of stuff has to appear on your page – a place where you can *freely* write what you wish to write, as it *is* yours – and that some people do not have the decency to state their views/opinions in a more civilized and cultured manner.
    I guess I should apologize to Mike that I'm not a blonde, but I don't think that's any reason to apologize (and I rather think this is the only and last time I'll ever mention his name in a comment), and besides, it probably just shows how close-minded he is.
    Anyway, I'm still looking forward to reading about how various people around the world think and try to work around these days. How various, *decent* people think and work.
    More power,

  9. The internet, blogs and free speech mean that we are exposed to both widely varying opinions, and the way in which they are expressed. It's too bad that the way they are expressed is not always in an intelligent, coherent and grammatically correct manner. It's more of a shame when the message is diluted, lost or ignored due to the aforementioned things. Mike – if you have an opinion – please try to state it without the ramblings and unnecessary name-calling – you will get your point across much better. I'm sure people can overlook spelling and grammar, but let's at least maintain a mature atmosphere where intelligent discussion can take place. We don't all have to agree on everything to make our point.

  10. n0t 1 offf u an5ered aany of mine question5

    so again put on your cool college grad glasses and look at what I said and refut a point.

    aside from that im just rambling aimlessly and moronically like everyone else πŸ™‚

    Megan honey heres a question for you…

    Do you agree that people who are not cultured or civilized are indecent people?

    Per your own words I am indecent because…

    "the decency to state their views/opinions in a more civilized and cultured manner"

    just wondering if this carries over to others or just people you think you disagree with πŸ™‚

    I'm just wonderin

    and no apologies needed ma'am we can always get you some hair dye!

    holla back!

  11. Quite the $h!t storm brewing south of the border. As a Canadian I can't help but feel a little for my neighbors. I sitting here in Alberta the land of the world's 2nd largest chunk of oil, economic growth like China, and all the niceties of the West and all that I can say is – get it together people. Who should accept responsibility for some dumb-asses that, because the bank stamped it on their faces “YOU DON’T QUALIFY,” found a 50 year subprime mortgage from a shyster financial engineering institution?

    I know not everyone studies finance and right now, the situation is what it is BUT WHERE’S THE PLAN? And why is it Baraks job to make one? Is there any personal responsibility – here’s the solution: Step 1) Go to school! And learn some finance. Step 2) If you don’t understand step 1 then GO TO SCHOOL.

    Problem solved. πŸ˜‰

  12. The overall premise of my posts, if not a straight up questions is waht I was wanting to engage in Doug, actually it ties in with the canucks post…

    Instead of listening to pontificators bloviating about how doomed shit is if we as citizens of this country pick our selves up and act right none of this shit would be an issue.

    And we certianly wouldnt need messiahs to come rescue us.

    If average americans and- Let me point out that except in the land of lala libreals too busy with their stabucks and parada shoes, the heartland americans do live the kinda life that is humble and resevered that does not cause the kind of overbrudend debt the current 5% of this country's morons find themselves in.

    And instead of running to one side or anohter of the political aisle to make us all feel better about ourselves and the future of our kids… and i mean come on people thats what its all about the kids!!! pfft

    Instead of all this hysteria if we go back to the basics and take care of ourselves and stop electing officals who promise the kinda shit that goverment is not supposed to be doing.

    Social Security, Healthcare, Public Education, and all the other plethra of subsided activites, we wouldnt even have htis problem as a nation.

    Its only when you start with this kinda subsided nonsense like when Katrina happend saying govt failed the citizens so here lets give more of our money to it in order for it to never happen that you prepetuate this endless cycle of spending more than you have.

    It comes down to is the govt your sugah daddy who fucks you whenever hes horney but leaves you a nice welfare check on the desk to make you feel good for a week or so… Or is it your evil step mother who works you to death but doesnt give you nearly your share of the pie.

    Neither of those appeal to me so I would rather just not have either of them and just pay taxes for the millatry to keep me safe from the injuns!!

    I can take care of my own life and finances and if we all stepped up and acted like citizens and did the same we wouldnt have this mess.

    What say you doug?

  13. Mr Brown,
    Your posts are great – I wish I was as articulate πŸ™‚

    Your last post is the best I've seen among your posts on this page so far.
    I do agree that it's much less hassle to live our own lives out and keep away from the chaos that is politics and changing the system and whatnot. In my opinion though, without leaders, countries would pretty much run amuck. None of them are perfect of course – none of us are really – but we try to elect people who at least can keep a bit of order, even if we know at the back of our minds they're probably gonna screw up one way or another eventually.
    Even if I know I don't have the capacity to "change" anything with whatever "system", though, it seems some people think they do and that they can (suddenly that felt very Barack Obama :P), and I'm just interested to know what they have to say about it. Maybe they have some better ideas about what needs to be done, maybe they don't. It kind of helps for me to see what other people think about things, even if I won't always agree with them.

  14. Thanks Megan πŸ™‚ – I liked your comment about: "It kind of helps for me to see what other people think about things, even if I won’t always agree with them." I think that is very true. We always seem to have the need to win an argument and have people agree with us. The truth is we can learn much more if we realize that we don't need to win.

    OK Mike, now we're getting somewhere. I can understand some of your points and while I don't agree with them all, at least we can discuss or debate them.

    First of all, I DO agree with what you say about 'picking ourselves up' and doing things, and not just to 'preach about doom and gloom' (I paraphrase).

    I don't totally agree with your point about average Americans vs the 'Rich' or as you say lala liberals, or that 5% of the country is in overburdened debt. The reality is – 1: Not all of the 'rich' are liberals – there are an awful lot on the conservative side of the fence. 2: I don't think that the problem of debt is 5% of the population. I think a bigger problem IS the average american who has worked like a dog all his life, and does not have much to show for it – ie: little or no retirement income, lack of ability to pay for increasing medical care for family, and likely still debt for a mortgage, car etc. A huge amount of our population – that really are the average – have increasing debt and little net worth. Yes – for sure the impact of corporate mismanagement and lending at sub-prime to people is a problem stemmed by greed, but it's also a numbers game. At the top end are the rich who tend to look out for themselves, followed by people who seem rich but are really living high on credit, followed by the average american who has worked hard, but is only just making it or is in debt, followed by the poor who have little or nothing.

    I DO agree with your 'back to basics' approach and the problem with elected officials 'promising' what they should not.

    I have mixed feelings about social programs etc. I'm not sure Katrina is the best example, since really it was an event waiting to happen. One could argue about the sense in allowing a large populated area to even exist below sea-level and not properly protected.

    Social programs like healthcare, public education and social security can work well if they are not completely relied upon, or if they are not abused.

    I think I know what you are saying – that the 'American Dream' is that anyone can do well and make money and live a good life and why do we need to spend money on people who don't?

    That is where I have mixed feelings. I agree that there is abuse of social programs and some people just don't work and free-load.

    But, there are a lot of people – and a lot of the poor in New Orleans are a good example of that, where many DO work hard to support their family, build their homes and don't abuse the system. Then along comes Katrina, which destroys their home, and they need help to get it rebuilt. Do we turn around and say – too bad – work hard and you will succeed? – or do we lend a hand to our fellow man and help them get back on their feet?

    I don't think the American Dream is 'Every Man for Himself' or who can have the biggest house, or the coolest car or 'seem' rich, although I do feel that is where it is headed. All that does is enlarge the gap between 'rich' and 'poor', and cause more anger between groups – from the one side – angry that their hard earned money is being used to 'subsidize' free-loaders, and from the other side that people take advantage of others and don't treat everyone fairly.

    So – yes – more individuals need to take responsibility for their own state of affairs and finances, but we also need to realize that we can't operate in a vacuum.

    I'm not sure how we start to make that change, but I do know that we need to start on that road.

    To me it is about being fiscally responsible more than it is about blaming others about the plight we are all in. Do we spend billions on the military or space exploration, or do we spend it on our own neighborhoods, and education and industry?

    It's time we all realized that the party is coming to an end and if we all help to clean up the mess, it will be much easier.

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