Sunday, July 8, 2012


I have been reading 'That Used To Be Us', a book by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. It's a good one. The only complaint I have is that it is taking a long time to read it because I become so outraged at what the authors reveal, that I have to put it down for awhile to calm myself. Well, that may be a little over the top. Let's use disturbed instead of outraged. I like to think that I'm too old to be outraged.
Anyway, back to the book, whose subtitle is ' How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented and How We Can Come Back'. The authors explore every facet of our society and how it relates to the jam we seem to be in these days. They use real facts to make their arguments and that's refreshing, even though I haven't always agreed with their conclusions. It is fun to read (once again) a book written by polite people. I would bet that I would enjoy sitting down with them and 'discussing' what they have written. And we would part as better friends than when we first sat down.
The reasons I'm posting here today are found in the ninth chapter, where they discuss deficits and taxes. One; Nixon scrapped the Breton Woods system that the US and Britain had forged in 1944. This system had the dollar tied to the price of gold and so gov't couldn't print and spend money that wasn't tied to this exchange rate. Nixon did this to pay for the Vietnam War. Now our currency floated free and the 'invisible hand' of the market would determine the value of the dollar. When Reagan took office he cut taxes for the wealthy and soon those deficits reduced the revenue base to a full 5% of GDP. In the meantime, government spending increased as Reagan invested in the Pentagon for a defense buildup. Reagan was soon alarmed by the figures and began replacing the tax cuts with increased taxation. He did this five times during his time in office. Reagan also shored up the Social Security system in 1983. Just as an aside; Reagan never called them taxes. They were revenue enhancements. That way he could claim to have never raised taxes. George H. W. Bush also found out that he needed to raise taxes, much to his embarrassment. Clinton was a different story, in that he raised taxes and the deficit was soon a surplus! His plan was to be ready for the 'Boomers' in the next century. Then we had eight years of disaster as Bush the Younger went to war and cut taxes. Four years ago, the estimate for the cost of the war in Iraq was $3 Trillion dollars. And that didn't include the  cost of the war in Afghanistan which is now the longest war in our history.
Bush the Younger leaves office and hands the whole mess over to Barack Obama. Disaster ensues when debt catches up to revenue and then the banks, etc, etc. Obama has made a mistake in NOT laying the blame for this mess on those that deserve it. He has been far too polite. They all should have been called out for the liars they are...
Another part of the book deals with the fact that millions of jobs will never come back. Even if you brought back those jobs that are in foreign lands, it wouldn't help. Technology has sailed into the future and left millions standing on the pier. Don't blame the President...blame our education system and that places the blame right at our own two feet. We have decided not to fund schools. We have decided to abandon our children. We can't blame anyone else.

Whew! That's enough for now...


  1. "The World is Flat" by Friedman was required reading for... Political Processes... or one of the basic Poli Sci classes that was required for my degree. It was well-written and interesting. And disturbing. Friedman's idea of "flat" was not an actual flat Earth, of course, but that the playing field has been flattened by our increased globalization. He also provided suggestions about what could be done to fix the US - economy, education, etc - but none of that is happening.

    Sad commentary on our world.

  2. The World is Flat and the sequel...Hot, Flat and Crowded, are great books.But, like you say, here we are in 2012 and nothing has changed politically. Education has been ignored, health is ignored and infrastructure is ignored (where's our broadband?)Yes, very sad.

  3. And yet people keep voting against their own best interests. More concerned with where Obama was born (someone just posted a link to that nutjob Sheriff in Arizona - I refuse to watch) than with the fact that Mitt Romney is a sleaze who is only out for Mitt. How does that even make sense?

  4. Let's see... which is more important; Obama's long form birth certificate or Mitt's long form tax returns?