UNCONCERNED

A Republican friend in California: ‘The deficits have never really concerned me, and most of them were racked up under Democratically controlled Congresses.’

☞ The President sets the agenda, has the veto – can even (I think) fail to spend appropriated money. Surely if my Republican friend were right about this, most of the National Debt would have been racked up in periods when Democrats controlled not just the Congress but the White House as well – no?

Yet of the nearly $10 trillion our National Debt will be by January of 2009, nearly $8 trillion of that will have been racked up by just three of our 43 presidents: Reagan, Bush and Bush.

Even at today’s low interest rates, and with the National Debt at ‘only’ $8 trillion, the interest on the debt already equals a hair less than 40% of all the money we pay in personal income tax. Not a concern? At what point would it concern my friend? At 80%? At 130%?

And what of China’s and our other creditors’ increasing leverage over us, their debtor? This is only a vague concern, if that, to most people. But one day, I fear, it may be the stuff of painful headlines.

And speaking (cheerfully) of catastrophes . . .

AVIAN FLU

If you missed ‘Nightline’ on this topic last week (Nightline is rarely to be missed – why do you think God invented TiVo?), click here for Dr. Osterholm’s article in Foreign Affairs.

Summary: If an influenza pandemic struck today, borders would close, the global economy would shut down, international vaccine supplies and health-care systems would be overwhelmed, and panic would reign. To limit the fallout, the industrialized world must create a detailed response strategy involving the public and private sectors.

‘Nightline’ left me wondering why we didn’t start work on this a year or two ago? Much the same infrastructure for avian flu would be required for biological terrorism. Was 9/11 not enough to get our government in gear?

LIGHTEN UP

I clearly need to. Send me some jokes. Not the one about ‘how many IS a Brazilian,’ but nothing dirty, either.

 

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