When I first wrote about Borealis, November 16, 1999, it was trading around $3 a share and the stock market bubble was about to burst. Those of you who bought it must thus be rubbing your eyes, as I am, to see that – while Cisco and Microsoft (say) are maybe half their former selves, and a great many issues have just disappeared – Borealis has tripled. It closed at $9 or so last night (valuing the entire company at $45 million, or about the cost of nice new 10-seater corporate jet).

This run-up in price does not mean Borealis won’t sooner or later go to zero. The only sane way to own it, I think, is to assume that it will. But now that it’s nearly tripled, should we sell?

One sensible answer might be: sell enough to get your original investment back and keep the rest. From then on, you’ll be playing with the house’s money.

That’s fine with me. I will sleep better knowing that, no matter what, I can’t have lost you money on this thing.

But it’s not necessarily logical, because you promised you would only put money into this that you would not much miss if you lost it. So what’s the big deal about recouping it?

I’m holding the ton of it I own because I made the same deal with myself: I expect to lose it. But in case Borealis proves real . . . well, won’t that be fun?

Anyway, enough of that. You don’t come to this site to make money, you come for recipes (Cooking Like a Guy™) and for macroeconomics. To wit, Matt Miller’s recent column:

By Matthew Miller

You can ask Americans to spend $166 billion to get the job done in Iraq and in Afghanistan (that’s $79 billion so far, plus the president’s new request for $87 billion).

You can ask us to tolerate modest budget deficits while spending what’s needed to meet a major national challenge.

But President Bush can’t ask us for $166 billion for Iraq while he runs record $500 billion budget deficits and doubles the national debt — all in order to give $300 billion a year in tax cuts over the next decade mostly to the best-off people in America.

And Bush certainly can’t do this when he’s also saying there’s no money for huge unmet domestic needs in health care, education and more.

No, this is the moment when President Bush’s radical fiscal irresponsibility has veered into radical fiscal immorality.

Consider the magnitude of the hoax: The outer limit of President Bush’s phony “compassion” is a health plan that would reach 6 million of today’s 42 million uninsured. By my math, 42 minus 6 equals Bush’s “compassion gap.”

But that’s only one of the countless Bush gaps under which America now suffers. There’s the Bush jobs gap (more than 3 million lost). The Bush growth gap (too little). The Bush budget gap (record $500 billion-plus deficits). The Bush ally gap (which leaves us footing the full bill abroad). The Bush poverty gap (the poverty rate is up, though few have noticed).

And, of course, the growing Bush honesty gap — which involves denial of all of the above (Remember: White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey was fired partly for daring to say Iraq would cost $100 billion to $200 billion).

The president and those advising him must think we’re as dumb as they are cynical. That if Bush goes on TV one night and invokes the memory of Sept. 11, we’ll suspend all powers of reasoning and fork over another $87 billion, no questions asked.

But as my colleagues at the Center for American Progress point out, $87 billion is seven times what the federal government spends on low-income schools. It’s eight times what the nation spends on Pell grants for college aid — at a time when the states are hiking tuitions at state colleges to cope with their own budget deficits, which in total come to less than (you guessed it) $87 billion.

Eighty-seven billion dollars is 10 times what the federal government spends on environmental protection and 87 times what it spends on after-school programs.

This is not to say America can’t pay for what needs to be done in Iraq — though it’s clearer every day that this arrogant White House either grossly bungled the postwar planning or concealed what it knew to be its likely dimensions; it will be interesting to see whether Bushies prefer to defend themselves as incompetent or dishonest.

But the key point — now finding its way into John Kerry’s rhetoric, as it should into the critique of other Democrats — is that since this war was conducted at a time of our choosing, there is no excuse for not having properly planned for the postwar scenario and for not having managed our international relationships to assure that the burden of Iraq’s renewal is shared, along with its benefits.

Which brings us back to Bush’s fiscal immorality. Bush says that our effort in Iraq will “require sacrifice.” Please tell us, Mr. Bush, what sacrifice is being asked of the most fortunate Americans? In ordinary times, claiming that tax cuts mostly for the rich are needed to boost economic growth would merely be garden-variety political fraud. When Bush makes this case in the context of financing a war on our kids’ credit card while shortchanging critical needs at home, it is morally obscene.

Democrats need to make a stand here. They must insist that new spending for Iraq be paid for dollar for dollar by repealing tax cuts going to the wealthiest. They should be prepared to filibuster in the Senate to draw national attention to Bush’s fiscal immorality.

It’s a defining showdown they can win.

If Democrats frame this debate properly and speak with one voice, Bush won’t be able to sell the con that Democrats “don’t support our troops.” The issue is how you pay for it. The contrast couldn’t be starker.

We’ve reached a tipping point in public opinion with Bush’s $87 billion speech, in which the president’s radical fiscal immorality can be easily explained and understood. It shocks average Americans. And it should.

(Matthew Miller, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is the author of The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America’s Problems in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love. Reach him at www.mattmilleronline.com.)


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