ARE WE A WARLIKE PEOPLE?

Certainly not. But our $700 billion annual military expenditure – nearly as much as every other nation’s combined – works outs to roughly $10,000 a year for each American family of four. Not that we pay it all. Much of it we borrow from the Chinese (or the Social Security Trust fund or our children, depending on how you want to spin it).

By contrast, our annual non-military foreign aid budget is roughly $25 billion, a more modest $300 for each family of four.

Is it possible that by cutting the former by 25% and quadrupling the latter, we’d gain more friends and a safer world for ourselves and our children? And still have $100 billion change left in our pocket each year?

SNARKY FOOTNOTE

James: “You wrote: “Or else they simply connect better with the Bushes of the world (a C student) and McCains (third from the bottom of his class of 897) and Palins (a D in economics) than they connect with snobby Rhodes Scholars (Bill Clinton) and Harvard Law Review editors (Barack Obama) who urge us to vote Democrat and keep America moving forward. Even a footnote like this will come off as snarky and elitist to some No more snarky and elitist than usual. Smart guys scare the hell out of me, the smart guys gave us the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam, derivatives and adjustable rate mortgages. The smart guys repealed Glass-Steagall, gave us ‘too big to fail,’ and trillion-dollar bailouts to the Wall Street masters. God save us all from the smart guys. I get it: you Democrats are smart and the Republicans dumb, but you had better remember that there are a lot more C and D students out there than Rhodes scholars. Us independents have a hard time figuring out which of the two poor excuses for a party are going to screw us less.

☞ James is right: Smart guys too often do make terrible misjudgments. But so do not-so-smart guys. Given that there are lots of smart, well educated people at virtually all points on the political/ideological spectrum, most definitely including Republicans, shouldn’t we prefer a smart, well educated leader to a less smart and/or poorly educated one? A leader who’s traveled the world and knows its history to one unaware of the difference between North and South Korea?

As for the rest of James’s post, I reject the notion that by taking the middleman out of the federally-guaranteed student loan business to lower college costs . . . or that by forcing health insurers to pay out at least 85% of premiums to cover health care and not rescind your coverage when you get sick . . .

. . . or that by clamping down on credit card company abuses and establishing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau . . . or that by establishing a minimum wage and the social safety net and the Family & Medical Leave Act . . .

. . . or that by supporting civil rights and equal rights and women’s rights . . . or that by seeking as large a stimulus package as possible to put people to work renewing our infrastructure and keep them at work teaching our kids and patrolling our streets . . .

. . . or that by raising taxes on the best off as Clinton did and Obama hopes to do in order to reverse the massive buildup of multi-trillion-dollar Republican National Debt . . .

. . . the Democratic Party is “a lame excuse for a party” trying to “screw” you.

That the Republican Party has opposed all these things (and more – stem cell research, anyone?) may give some an easy time “figuring out which of the two poor excuses for a party is going to screw us less” (as James puts it).

Smarg: “Eight years of Bush administration policies and two years of ‘make this President fail’ has made it extremely easy for me to cast my vote in all future elections. I will always simply vote straight Democratic Party ticket. It won’t matter who is running any more. Your dog as the Democratic candidate? Straight ticket. Your long dead uncle? Same thing. Thanks, Republicans. You have made my life so much more simple.”

☞ Someday, Republican priorities and leadership will return to the moderate, sensible Lincoln-Eisenhower-Nixon-Ford-Javits-Weld-Bloomberg center, which had a lot to contribute. So “all future elections” is obviously hyperbole. But the next couple? I’m with Smarg.

IF WE’RE SO SMART, HOW COME HALF THE COUNTRY DISAGREES?

That so many disagree could simply mean that we’re wrong.

Or it could mean that Karl Rove, et al, have done a masterful job making people think that the $1.4 trillion 2009 deficit that Obama inherited (set in 2008, before he took office, covering the months October 2008 through September 2009) was Obama’s doing . . .

. . . and that the near Depression that eight years of Bush tax policy and deregulation left us (the first six of which featured Republican control of Congress) was Obama’s doing.

The simple truth is that, after decades of (mostly delightful) self-indulgence, living beyond our means – and running our National Debt up from 30% of GDP when Reagan/Bush took over to 100% of GDP when the second Bush handed it off to Obama – we have a couple of challenging decades ahead of us. With smart priorities – education, health care, and energy, being the mega-challenges the President has targeted from the start – and with responsible regulation – and if we borrow for the things we need to do, like renew infrastructure, rather than borrow to extend tax cuts and fight ill-advised wars – we will do just fine.

I’m sorry: my money is on Barack Obama’s vision, not Sarah Palin’s.

EMIS

Still a rank speculation, but up 15% or so since first suggested here in August. Guru’s latest thinking is that it still has a reasonable shot at a tenfold gain from here. But not a bet to take with money you can’t truly afford to lose because even if the odds of a ten-bagger were 50/50 (and they may be worse!), you’d still lose your money half the time.

 

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