RECORD BUDGET DEFICIT

According to this from Reuters:

The U.S. government turned in a $175.56 billion budget deficit for February, a record for any month . . . a 46.3 percent increase over the previous all-time single-month deficit . . . [and] for the first five months of fiscal 2008, which began last October 1, the deficit reached a record $263.26 billion, up 62.3 percent from the $162.16 billion for the same period of fiscal 2007.

The previous record deficit for the first five months of a fiscal year was set in 2004, a year in which the government also reached its previous record full-year deficit of $413 billion. The White House last month estimated that the fiscal 2008 deficit would hit $410 billion, but that excludes undetermined supplemental spending requests for war funding in Iraq and Afghanistan.

☞ Of course, not only does the reported deficit not include spending for the wars, it also omits the money we are looting from the Social Security Trust Fund. Figure a true deficit by fiscal year’s end that could be within hailing distance of $1 trillion.

The National Debt – $9.4 trillion (up $400 billion since Labor Day) – will, as I’ve long suggested, be $10 trillion by the time Bush leaves office. Three-quarters of that, accumulated since 1776, will have been racked up under just 3 of our 43 presidents: Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

Worse, the National Debt has grown relative to the size of our economy. It was 30% of our GDP when Reagan took office; it will be about 70% of GDP when Bush leaves.

Overall, more than 85% of the debt will have been racked up under Republican Administrations.

The interest on this mostly Republican debt now amounts to about 40% of all the personal income tax we pay. The closer it gets to 100%, the less we have to spend on anything else.

OIL

Just so you know, half-pint, there are two pints in a quart, four quarts in a gallon, and – my point – 42 gallons in a barrel. So with oil at $110 or so, that’s $2.62 a gallon before the cost of refining it or moving it thousands of miles to the pump or paying for the gas station’s overhead and labor . . . and before profits for the refiner and pipeline and gas station . . . and before the state and national gasoline taxes that go to maintain some of our highways.

Say hello to $4 gasoline. They pay more than double that abroad.

M.I.T. PECULIAR

So I had that little item titled THE QUICKBROWSE FIREFOX JUMPED OVER THE LAZY BLOG and two of you – within minutes of each other – emailed to point out that my attempted pangram was missing an ‘N’ (a pangram is a sentence that uses all 26 letters of the alphabet) and I wrote back to explain it was not an attempted pangram, it was an attempt at levity. And in replying to the first correspondent, I noticed from the e-address he was at (or a graduate of) M.I.T.

All my life I’ve been intimidated by these guys (though grateful they’re there). They are the smart ones.

And then I noticed that the second one, almost identical, was also from M.I.T. Was this some sort of ‘campaign’ against inadequate pangrams? Is there an M.I.T. group formed to preserve pangrammic integrity? (Might they also be on the look-out to guard against 18-syllable haiku?)

I wrote the first asking if he knew the second (surely, they shared a cubicle?), but he did not.

So out of thousands of people who (unaccountably) read this column each day, exactly two of them wrote in about the missing N, within minutes of each other, both from M.I.T.

Tell me this isn’t a little bit scary.

 

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