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Monday, July 25, 2011

What Would Joe Sixpack Do?

My usual coffee place was inexplicably closed this morning.

I pulled up and the lights were unlit and the shutters were shuttered.

I drove around the little building several times, forlornly hoping that it would magically open up in an angelic orchestra of joyful coffee rainbows and bacon flavored happiness.

Alas.

Now, I don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules, but not starting Monday without coffee is one of them.

And so, somewhat later,  instead of cheerfully slurping happy rainbow juice as I barreled carefree down the highway, I found myself plodding through the cold rain to stand, sullen and angry, in line to buy coffee at another place.  A place without a drive-up window (thus the sullen and angry part).

Apparently, a lot of folks found themselves in similar straights this morning because the place was crowded with the sullen and the angry.

Conversation ebbed and flowed around me and my brain mostly edited the babble from my awareness – except for the pair of self-proclaimed budget analysts directly in front of me.  They were talking loudly about government, and more specifically just how much ours sucks huge giant hairy donkey balls (I’m paraphrasing here). They were, more or less, talking about the ongoing debt battle raging on Capitol Hill (if “raging” means “scampering about madly and biting people on the ass like a diseased weasel”). 

It was fairly obvious that neither of these two polyester suitmonkeys had any clue whatsoever as to what they were talking about.

Logical fallacies are like fingernails on a blackboard to me – or for those of you too young to know what a blackboard is, logical fallacies are like the sound of Michelle Bachman’s shrill squawk screeching like a rusty hinge in your ear while you’re suffering a skull splitting migraine brought on by the world’s worst cheap Mexican tequila hangover.

“You know, this isn’t rocket engineering,” one said loudly, “when are those bastards in Washington going to understand that you can’t spend more than you make?”

The other one agreed, “If I ran my house the way these idiots are running the country, I’d be out on the street!”

The wild eyed guy in front of them, a drywall installer from the looks of it or maybe a mass murderer who had recently quick-limed a pit full of dismembered  body parts, turned around and chimed in, “No shit.  It’s common sense. They need to start listening to Weeda Pebble!”

And I thought, who the hell is this Pebble bitch? Is she the voice in your head that sounds like Grover Norquist’s accountant? It was early, I hadn’t yet had coffee. Sue me. Eventually I realized he actually said we the people, which is apparently how we’re now referring to ourselves. I didn’t get the memo, sorry.

Paper Jumpsuit went on to explain, “These rich elitist sons of bitches don’t have the basic common sense of any average Joe Sixpack!”

Other folks nodded their agreement, I heard a “yadamnedriiight” from somewhere up line, and one of the suitmonkeys actually applauded a little bit.

It was at that point where the true beauty of the drive-up coffee shack really became apparent.

 

But I digress.

 

So, what common sense wisdom have we learned today, Children?  Other than a non-fat latte tastes like Satan’s ass sweat?

If we only ran the United States like Joe Sixpack runs his house, why, everything would be groovy.

Why yes, that sound you hear is me contemplating violent mayhem, the kind involving the knocking of heads together like a couple of empty coconuts.

See, national debt represents how much money the government owes – to itself, to its citizens, and to others. Like a household budget, the debt gets larger when the government spends more than it takes in.

Simple right?

Well, no, not really, it’s much more complicated than that, but for the sake of Joe Sixpack’s comic book understanding of how the government works we’ll stick with the basic description.

The ratio of US debt to Gross Domestic Product (i.e. the country’s basic measure of income) this year is about 58%, give or take, or about average for an industrialized First World nation.  Our 58% is much better than Germany’s 78%, but not quite as good as India’s 55%.  Generally speaking a higher percentage is bad, and a low percentage (say like China’s 17%) is good.  But just looking at the percentages is an oversimplification and a country with a low percentage of debt to GDP can still have a crappy credit rating for a number of reasons – say like those oil rich South American countries where soccer is the national sport, right after armed revolution, drug wars, and overthrowing the local despot.  A more stable country can carry a lot of debt and still have a AAA credit rating because the market knows they’re reliable.  Anybody, Joe Sixpack included, who has applied for a car loan or a mortgage from the local credit union should understand the basic principle, appearance is just as important, if not more so, than the actual ability to pay.

Now here’s the thing: A 58% debt to GDP ratio isn’t great, but it’s a damned sight better than it would be if America was your average American homeowner.  

The median income in the US is about $46K per year for single earner households, and about $67K for dual income households.  The median price of the average home in America is about $200K.  Note: in some places income and home prices are lower, some places they’re considerably higher, but the ratio of income to home price remains roughly the same as a function of the free market.   Now, the average American homeowner doesn’t just have his or her mortgage as debt, typically the average household has two cars, one of which is likely to be an expensive SUV and neither of which is paid off, and then there’s the gas to drive them, and the insurance.  Households need electricity and natural gas and water and sewage and garbage service. Then there’s communications, the average American spends a lot of money on cell phones and data plans and cable and landlines and internet.  And you have to eat. And there’s the other stuff, kids and all the crap they need, and clothes, and pets, and haircuts, and medical expenses, and etc and etc and so on and so forth.  Oh, and don’t forget about interest on all those credit cards.

What it adds up to is that Joe Sixpack  has a dead horse of about $300K on average, if he’s lucky. 

And if he bought a boat on credit or an RV or that big monster truck, or a swimming pool or any of those other things he just had to have, well,  he could have a debt that is much, much higher.

What it works out to, on average, is this: Joe Sixpack has an income to debt ratio of about 650%.

That’s six hundred and fifty percent. On average.

If Joe is living in a dual income home, then, on average, he’s still looking at an income/debt ratio of right around 447% – except he probably bought a more expensive house, so his debt to income ratio is probably closer to the previous single income example.

Remember the national debt to income ratio is 58% and just for reference the nation with the worst income to debt ratio right now is Japan with 225%

If we ran the country the way Joe Sixpack runs his house, we’d be looking at a national debt that is anywhere from nine to thirteen times what it is now

That’s a national debt of $115 to $170 trillion, give or take a few dollars, just in case you’re not good with the math.

Of course, during the housing bubble when the banks were handing out free money and Joe Sixpack got himself into that balloon payment interest only mortgage on that $800K McMansion in Temecula, with the matching Lincoln Navigators in the driveway and the boat and the ATVs and the jet skis and the other toys and he was blithely carrying somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars of the American dream on his back, well, then his debt to income ratio was nigh on batshit insane. 

But yeah, let’s run the country the way Joe runs his house.

Yeah, let’s do that.

 

What? Oh the smell, yeah, that’s sarcasm. Sorry about that stinker, I let one slip out there.

 

Joe Sixpack has all kinds of great ideas for running the country. 

Maybe we could apply those ideas to Joe’s household, after all turnabout is fair play, right?

For example, the first thing old Joe Sixpack should do is take a vow to never raise his income level.  Ever.  $46K per year and not a penny more, swear to Jesus.  No matter what. 

He should start referring to his unemployed wife as a “lazy socialist parasite.” When the kids ask for allowances, Joe can explain how that kind of “redistribution of wealth” is anti-American.

Fifty-six percent of the household budget would be spent on guns.

Instead of cutting back on cable or cell phones or eating out six nights a week or those jet skis or, god forbid, buying a few less guns each month, Joe decides to cut his grandmother’s medical coverage. 

At least one member of the family goes to bed hungry every night, while the rest are overweight and throw food away.

Joe’s daughter gets raped one night, and he explains how it’s her fault for looking like a tart, the resulting unwanted pregnancy is God’s will and besides motherhood will build character. Oh, by the way, get out, because Joe sure as hell isn’t paying for that baby.  Oh and by the way, have fun with the cervical cancer since, in addition to the whole rape thing God wanted you to have, he was also apparently against the HPV vaccine. None of which has anything whatsoever to do with balancing the household’s budget, but Joe feels that arguing about it, along with condemning other members of the family to hell, is important.

 

Oops, sorry, there it is again. Logical fallacies give me gas. Go ahead and roll down your window.

 

Unfortunately for us, when it all gets to be too much for stubborn old Joe Sixpack, he can always declare bankruptcy and default on his debts.

And in that respect, well, we are running the country exactly like he would.

Exactly.

55 comments:

  1. Interesting way of putting things - the 650% income to debt ratio for the average person with a home and toys. Nice and understandable.

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  2. Sometimes the truth hurts. Great post, Jim. Running the government like Joe Sixpack's house ranks right up there with running the government like a business, without realizing the businesses are run like a dictatorship.

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  3. You are my hero. I want to be you when I grow up. I want my husband to be you when he grows up.

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  4. The problem here is that a. You're not black; b. Your place of birth has never been placed in question; c. Our elcted officials can't understand logic.

    Nah, seriously, the issue is, as you alluded to (WTH, you POINTED it out!) GREED! You should've pointed out that Joe Sixpack likes to go to Gravina Island to shoot those guns and fish but rather than have to wait every 30 minutes for the ferry he wants direct access and is paying to have a $398 million dollar brdige built...

    But I digress... I wish we would just have a flat rate income tax so I didn't have to spend hours every year making up lies... Of course that would mean all those CPA's and Tax Lawyers would be out of jobs and living on the streets... Or chasing ambulances!

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  5. Ouch. I can only imagine what sort of mood you'd been in if you'd been waiting on ship's coffee.

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  6. And suddenly, I feel better about my student loans.

    tablerbe- Furby's planer cousin

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  7. Hey! I didn't like the look in my husband's eyes just now when I read him your line, "'He should start referring to his unemployed wife as a “lazy socialist parasite.”'!

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  8. I just made my husband read this with me; as we were getting toward the end I said "he's (that would be Jim...) my new hero. After you of course, honey."
    Said husband didn't think that was too funny, but the post sure had him laughing.
    So...after President Obama serves his second term, how about running for President Jim?

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  9. Thank you for taking the time to put this all into language I can read without wanting to rip the heads off of baby bunnies. Or something along those unacceptable lines. Two things Joe 6 can be counted on to provide: he will claim he can do it better. No matter what "it"is...and he will not. He will not do it, much less better. Unless as you have observed, the challenge is financial overextension - THAT one is in his playbook. I choose to not live in the Joe 6 world; and I sure don't want to live with him as my leader. Speaking of which, why don't you get a cup of coffee and then run for King of the World? I like living in your world...

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  10. I find it somewhat disturbing that so many of my fellow Mericans think that Joe Sixpack is fit to hold public office. Thank Gawd these idjits are in the minority. They are in the minority, right? Right?

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  11. Word to the wise - make your own coffee and put it in a thermos - that way you don't have to listen to the assholes in line at the coffee place. Really - it just takes 10 minutes once you get used to the routine. It's worth it. Also so true about the debt ratio thing. How many people have $200,000 in debt, yet they only make $50,000 per year and pay only interest for many years? Also I didn't understand what your opinion is re: the HPV vaccine. Do you think it is a good thing or not? I will withhold my opinion until I see if you respond.

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  12. Thanks - spot on !

    I loved the "fifty-six percent of budget spent on guns".

    Couldn't resist people on Blackwaterdog's "The only adult in the room" blog to head over here ...

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  13. Jim,

    Superb post. Once again. You realize, of course, that Joe6 simply cannot understand your plain language explanation. In fact, he'd just want to beat your a** for making a fool of him!

    Keep up the good work shipmate!

    RP

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  14. As you so pointedly pointed out there is nothing quite as ignorant as common sense. The talking heads rail against the educated elite, but they are no better than joe 6 Pak, just prettier.You do well for a sailor from Jenison, I don't recall them teaching logic in Michigan high schools or the Navy, maybe it was when I was standing in line for coffee.

    Keep up the good work, there are way too many braying bloggers and congress members who are too lazy to understand reality.

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  15. Anonymous@1:20AM, I think that if you prevent your daughter or other female loved one from getting the HPV vaccine because you think a) it will make her into a whore, or b) cervical cancer is God's will, then I want to punch you in the face.

    Cervical cancer caused by HPV is 100% preventable, keeping your kid from getting the vaccine is the kind of bizarre right wingnut child abuse that ranks right up there with purity balls.

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  16. @Nitejazz, Logic comes with the CWO bars, Commander ;)

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  17. I'm almost 100% sure you lost them at the explanation of the Gross Domestic Product.

    High School Economics - it's SO HARD.

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  18. I'll try to use smaller words in the future.

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  19. The numbers I came up with were slightly different, but yeah, most Americans (on average) are in debt over 100% of their income.

    It is slightly disingenuous to compare GDP to income. It would be more far to compare debt to revenues. But then we also don't talk about the "small debt" most people carry (such as your utility bills, having the plumber "send you a bill", or eating before paying the tab). The debt limit is more like those. It's a way of keeping cash flow running and evening out the spikes and dips during the year.

    What I think is hilarious of all the "cap, cut and balance" people don't realize, with that in place, we wouldn't have been able to respond to 9-11, or Katrina, or any of the myriad other emergency spending we do every year.

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  20. "more fair". I have no idea what "more far" is.

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  21. Wouldn't comparing US debt to US tax revenues make more sense? We've got $14 trillion in debt and $2.2 trillion in revenue, which doesn't paint such a rosy picture.

    That being said, I agree with your basic premise that those guys in line in front of you are morons. Balancing the budget of the federal government is fundamentally different then balancing a household budget and they shouldn't be approached in the same way.

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  22. Jim, your analysis made my day! Thanks.

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  23. I've been thinking for several days that defaulting on the national debt is like deciding to refinance your home mortgage, and not making any payments on your current mortgage while you shop for a better deal.

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  24. Steve Buchheit and Jim made the point I intended: the GDP is not really a relevant measure of *government* income. [I hate to imagine what the country's total debt load is, but it might be a worthwhile exercise..]

    Still, as math and/or tools like the NYT's budget game make very clear, doom is not yet quite upon us. At least if we can manage to restore some vague progressive nature to taxation..

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  25. I used GDP because in macro economics, debt-to-GDP ratio is the traditional standard value used to calculate health of the economy. It's a simple indicator, low ratio good, high ratio bad, and is the value typically touted by the talking heads, politicians, and pundits. However, as I said in the post, this is a somewhat simplistic view. There are a number of ways to calculate this value - I used the simplest - which explains why different folks get different results using the same inputs. It should be noted that few folks do, in fact, use the same inputs, and those become wildly varible depending on the political point the writer is trying to make. Obviously there are a number of values that can be used in calculations like this: debt (public, private, and/or both) to total domestic revenue is another way.

    However you slice it, there is no real comparison between the federal budget and Joe Sixpack's household budget and attempting to make such a comparison serves only as fodder for stirring up the rabble. Which was the whole point of this post.

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  26. That and they don't work the same, either. And granted, it's all about where you slice the pie, and what ingredients you put into in the first place.

    However, I do agree with Jim about not running the government like you do a household budget. First of all, as he says, we aren't all that fiscally sound (want another metric - how many foreclosures and bankruptcies were there last year? Yep, people are so more rational actors). Secondly, few people have appropriations set at the beginning of the year that they need to live within (most home budgets are very fungible, unlike government budgets which must survive auditability and transparency).

    It's the same with the canard of "if only we ran government like a business." You really don't want your government run that way.

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  27. For the sake of discussion, let's compare government debt to a household using the same metrics, shall we? Instead of GDP, let us use tax revenues ($2.2 trillion) vs. total debt ($14.2 trillion), using the numbers from Jim (commenter) and current news reports. My proverbial back of the envelope says 14.2/2.2 = 6.45 = 645%, compared with CWO Jim's 650% for average household debt. Congress seems to be running the U.S. budget EXACTLY like an average household's budget, and both are horribly screwed up. Joe Sixpack is an idiot, and the morons in Congress whom he elects are representing him perfectly. (Grammar police, please check that "whom" for me. I put it in just to keep you happy.) Yes, I do write to my 10-term fossil of a Representative, but he ignores me and votes in goosestep lockstep with the far right Republicans and Tea Baggers. He's impervious to logic. I'm not sure my Democratic Senators are that much better, but they're not so hypocritical. Thanks for another good post, Jim. Making people think is a novel idea in current politics.

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  28. Great post, Jim. Loved the reverse-comparison.

    The Republicans have very cleverly conflated the debt-ceiling issue with the deficit issue - meaning that Congress is currently running round trying to set long term budget constraints by the seat of their pants in order to raise an arbitrary ceiling. Not good for rational, stable outcomes. It's making our politicians look smart and noble, and we have the Rupert Murdoch shenanigans going on!

    erapper - sure, he spits mad lyrics, but he recycles!

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  29. Actually, on Joe Sixpack's house and car, did you add in the interest on the loans? Because the total I owed on my mortgage over 30 years is several times the prize of the house.

    And the interest on those credit cards...

    Dr. Phil

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  30. Whoa now. That's Alaskan Joe Sixpack that you were listening to in line.

    Whatever the virtues of any individual Alaskan, the State of Alaska as a whole collects $1.84 from the Federal Government for ever dollar it pays out in taxes. Then we need to add the fact that Alaskan Joe Sixpack has extraordinarily low state taxes AND gets a flat cash payment due to State of Alaska's extortion of the oil companies.

    Alaskan Joe Sixpack is a closet socialist. Cash that government check, drive on the roads, use any of the state services or take a trip on the Alaskan Marine Highway and you are a socialist to the core.

    Your entire state has less residents than the 7x7 mile City of San Francisco and you get two Senators and a Congressman to squeeze money out of the rest of us.

    So Alaskan Joe Sixpack needs to STFU or be very grateful for his taxpayer funded government handouts.

    p.s._ I got nothing against the State of Alaska and think the Alaska Marine Highway is the best deal in the world but reality is reality.

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  31. Just wondering..... how does an ex-Navy Chief Warrant Officer a) not know how to make coffee upside down in his sleep and b) not understand the workings of a thermos.

    Them local coffee girls must be pretty dang cute.

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  32. I agree with Anonymous @1:20am. Making your own coffee is far superior to ordering from a coffee shack. If you have one of those coffee makers that has a timer on it, even better - you can set everything up the night before, tell it what time you want it to turn on, and as long as the power doesn't go out, boom, fresh coffee when you wake up. If you're worried about power, a battery backup system could work. I'm a big fan of Raven's Brew, especially the Deadman's Reach blend. There is also "Three-Peckered Billy Goat" if you REALLY need to wake up.

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  33. Hush, the lot of you. I'm fully capable of making coffee, at least a dozen different ways. Personally, I prefer the french press method, which is what I typically use here at work for plain black coffee.

    However, in the morning I really, really like a large latte, strong foamed expresso and heated milk in the Italian style. That takes a special machine as described in this post.

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  34. One of the better deflations of the idiotic "government=household" meme.

    When Joe's starts printing and issuing the world's reserve currency in his basement, then we can talk.

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  35. Comparing running the government budget like you do a household budget doesn't make sense. Trying to run a government like a for-profit business doesn't work either. People who don't understand that some things require government, like the military, police, FAA, interstate highways, and I believe, education at some level. Or the space program? Where is that now? How does the US rate in the space programs now? Shut down. How would private enterprise utilize the military or police or court system? We need goverment to be in charge of some things.

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  36. Anonymous@3:41
    I'm not sure if you're agreeing with the post or not:

    Comparing running the government budget like you do a household budget doesn't make sense.

    Of course it doesn't make sense. You do understand that is the whole point of the post, right?

    Trying to run a government like a for-profit business doesn't work either.

    That was a previous post.

    Or the space program? Where is that now? How does the US rate in the space programs now? Shut down.

    Sorry, disagree. The US still has a space program, and will still fly in space. The shuttle's life was always limited to the end of major construction of the ISS. Now that that's complete, there is no use for the shuttle. Any science that used to be done in its payload bay can be done better on the ISS. Servicing of satellites and telescopes and such can be done with smaller, cheaper spacecraft. What America doesn't have at the moment is a giant complex money sucking Surface to Orbit 1975 pickup truck that doesn't do anything very well. We're still flying, on Russian ships sure, but that's a triumph in its own right and shows just how far we've come as a civilization - when the shuttle first flew, the Russians were our enemies, now they're our partners. I don't regard that as a failure.

    One other thing I'd point out, this: How does the US rate in the space programs now

    Who's doing this rating? Is there some international panel of judges? Are we diminished as a people? We went into space at first just to beat the commies, and look how that worked out. Government don't explore, governments don't dream. Men do. When we return to space it will be as private citizens, and then the space age will truly be born. Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, Independents, and everybody in between keeps harping on "the American Entrepreneurial Spirit," well now's the time to step up and privatize space.

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  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  38. Just to be clear I do not in any way resent any particular individual from the State of Alaska for having a government job. Lots of those government jobs, like the park rangers and fisheries management people I am very, very, grateful for.

    Twenty years ago I took the Alaska Marine Highway from Seattle to Petersburg and back with a month or so of working the slime line in a salmon cannery in between. The boat trip(s) were worth doing the cannery work they were that good.

    But......

    I can't help but mock anybody who walks upstream and pisses in his own drinking water.

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  39. Am I to assume Mr. Heffley the troll was a friend of yours, Pangolin?

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  40. I had to scroll back and check the name. Never heard it before in my life. I was not pleased to have that construed as an attack on the people of Alaska in general as they were very kind and gracious on my one visit there.

    There are some attitudes of certain individuals I might have a beef with. That's all.

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  41. @Pangolin, I deleted his comment because I don't care for obnoxious assholes. He claimed to be referred to this blog by a regular reader.

    Since he seemed to resent my military service and the fact that I'm an Alaskan, or as he put it a lazy parasite like all Alaskans and a shitty writer who hasn't earned my way in the world, and then quoted your comments extensively I assumed he was a friend of yours.

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  42. Our mutual Facebook friend Cynthia Clayton Vasquez recommended this post, and I think I might love you now (but not in the weird, internet-stalkery way, unless bookmarking the blog counts). Plus you post cat pictures, just the icing on the cake. Thank you for laying this out so clearly.

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  43. I know this isn't the topic, but I can't resist addressing this after seeing your response to the question regarding the vaccine.

    I'm not in agreement with you, Jim, on this one. Not for the same reasons as the wing-nuts, but for science/medical and statistical reasons. It isn't unreasonable for parents to be cautious about any new drug or vaccine on the market, and they are not necessarily irresponsible because they do not agree to giving new medicines wholesale to young girls, especially when it prevents a statistically small number of dangerous infections. I think that is especially true now that the FDA has been so severely compromised and pharmaceutical companies are rushing products onto the market, with the true "testing" taking place on the millions of consumers using them over a longer period of time. If we had today's FDA in the early 1960s, we would have suffered the tragedy of Thalidomide babies like Europe did.

    The World Health Organization reported over 550,00 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide in 2007. The American Cancer Society reported 11,000 new cases in the United States in 2009, with 4000 deaths. That isn't an epidemic. This vaccine does not protect against the vast majority of strains, including some that are linked to cervical cancer, and every girl's needs will be different. Now they are recommending the vaccines for boys too, but without that much testing. Caution can be a responsible choice too.

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  44. As to the Alaskan "extortion" of the oil companies, that's hogwash, but oil companies have done a good job promoting that idea. Oil companies have colonized Alaskans. Now they're on their way out. They scare Alaskans into bending over for them by pretending they won't seek more oil here if Alaska taxes more than they want to be taxed, but it is bull. They aren't going to do more here anyway because there is more accessible oil they can get cheaply elsewhere. They started winding down some time ago so there are already far fewer jobs than there used to be.

    The oil companies already have one foot out the door, which is why they illegally stopped maintaining the pipeline and their equipment, causing oil fires on the slope and spills. They aren't investing in maintenance because they are leaving anyway and they don't care what they leave behind. In the meantime, though, before they pull out completely, they will squeeze every drop of extra profit they can out of everyone, including Alaskans. Even with the taxes they pay to Alaska, they've been making billions in profit. Poor poor oil companies.

    Just a note on the federal money that goes to Alaska: Consider it an investment in your national security. Alaska is a hard place to live. Most people won't live here and among those who do, because of the weather, isolation, prices, and culture shock, most are gone within two years of arrival. Yet Alaska is a strategically important state when it comes to national security.

    Don't forget the Japanese actually took islands here during WWII, engaged in vicious combat with us right here in our own US territory. Now Russia is jockeying and clashing with the United States over potential resources we already consider ours. If North Korea takes an interest or points something at us, or some other country not all that far away? With many miles of access, we need people to populate Alaska so we can know what the heck is happening up here. Since it is an isolated, expensive, harder place to live than most states, citizens need to be able to afford to be here, you know, to have homes and to eat, or they won't be. It requires some subsidizing by the rest of the country if only out of self-interest.

    I do get the point about the hypocrisy though. That much is true. We all pay the same amount for water every month too, regardless of how much we use. A family of ten pays the same as a household of one. But Alaskans don't believe in socialism! Nope.

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  45. Working a job is not receiving a "handout;" not even if the employer is a government agency.

    Alaskans pay the exact same federal taxes other Americans pay. Just as all states deserve to have some of their federal taxes return for projects, so does Alaska.

    The Alcan was not built to please the few Alaskans living up here at the time, but for national security reasons inspired by WWII, providing access for the military and to connect the state by land to the rest of the country through Canada. The federal government wanted people to live up here for the same reason and so instituted a homesteading program (yes, many of the right-wingers out in Sarah Palin's valley are the descendents of and/or beneficiaries of a socialist program). The country's entire interstate system was built for the same reason, or at least that was the excuse. It was lobbied for by contractors and developers building suburbs and was a major subsidy to the middle-class and the rich-nice roads to their homes in the burbs.

    Further, many regions in the country were subsidized in that way when the federal government wanted settlers to populate an area, including the Pacific Northwest where the feds gave railroad tycoons acres and acres of land (who then sold it super cheap to timber barons), gave land to homesteaders, and later built the dams that still provide subsidized irrigation for the region's agriculture industry and cheaper hydro-power to Pacific Northwesterners.

    The large military bases in Alaska, employing military men and women, the Coast Guard, federal workers, and also providing business opportunities to private sector companies from around the country are contributing to protecting your behind, so perhaps different terminology for the federal programs that tax monies support is in order. (I am not a government employee.)

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  46. I got a nice strong wiff of your sarcasm and see how you can attempt to fit the pieces together so that your sarcastic commentary helps make your point, but it falls flat. Ask the millions that have lost their homes how that astronomical ratio has worked out. While there are many morons like your Joe Six-pack, this is no support for our current ratio level. Simply put, less debt and good credit gives you better leverage and something or someone needs to change this out of control debt limit increase started with Reagan.

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  47. Way to completely miss the point there, Anonymous. Really, stellar job. Well done.

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  48. After President Obama completes his second term, I want you to run for the position. Really.

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  49. Actually I have a online business.. the US debt more impact on my business.. hopefully it will cure in short period of time..

    Thanks Jim for your explanation.. I like your way of presentation..

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  50. Every time someone mentions "Gross Domestic Product," I get this queasy feeling. Some little guy living near my spleen thinks the "Gross Domestic Product" is a political term/value, not a meaningful fiscal/economic value. No matter how we slice it up, our federal government takes in about $2Trillion per annum and spends, these days, somewhere north of $3Trillion. Of that spending, somewhere between $500Billion and $1Trillion is interest on the government's bonds (and other paper). When I get to fretting about this, a tall, cool glass of iced GDP doesn't seem to calm me down.

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  51. This post still stings even months after reading it. We need to wake up and assess our situation in the proper context. Debt has so much more to it than what you see on the cover, much like the bad credit car loans you want to get.

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  52. I think you might be a little upset because of the non-fat latte. Ha Ha.

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