Thursday, September 20, 2012

Obama on Debt: I Don't Recall

When David Letterman was interviewing President Obama a couple of days ago, he asked him about the debt clock at the Republican National Convention.  "Do you remember what that number was?  Was it $10 trillion," asked Dave?

Replied the president: "I don't remember what the number was precisely."

Mr. President.  Do you mean to say that you don't know that the national debt is north of $16 trillion?

President Obama went on to say that the debt is a problem long-term and medium-term.  But that the only way to we have found to deal with it effectively is with a balanced approach, cutting some spending, making programs work, and for folks like him and Letterman to "do a little more."

Actually, Mr. President, the best results on budget balancing came from Finland's efforts in the 1990s which included spending cuts and tax cuts.  You could call it an overbalanced budget program.

The reason why it worked well is that all government spending is a weight on the nation's economy.  All of it.  And all of the government's taxing is a weight on the nation's economy.  So the more you take the weights of taxing and spending off the economy, the faster it will bounce back.

And let's not forget government regulation.  That's another weight.

So the best policy moving forward is to reduce government spending and reduce government taxes as much as you can without provoking riots in the street.

Now the president also wants his balanced program to avoid placing the whole burden on the backs of the middle class.

Sorry about that, Mr. President.  But the overwhelming majority of government spending is shoveled out to the middle class.  In Medicare.  In Social Security.  In education.  Then there's welfare, but most of that money goes to pay for middle-class government workers.

There is, of course, plenty of crony capitalism out there, billions and billions of it. Let's cut it.  Let's cut all of it. But the middle-class spending programs amount to trillions and trillions.  Whatever politicians like you say, the major cuts will fall on the backs of the middle class.  And if we don't do it now it will be worse in the future.  Think Greece.  Think Argentina.

But there's another problem.  Maybe it's even bigger than the government debt problem.  It is the worker problem, according to Nick Schulz.  Younger workers just don't have the basic skills to work.  So what is the problem, apart from "finding people that can pass the drug test?"
In the Manpower Group's 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, nearly 20% of employers cited a lack of soft skills as a key reason they couldn't hire needed employees. "Interpersonal skills and enthusiasm/motivation" were among the most commonly identified soft skills that employers found lacking.
Yes.  Apart from the problem of finding people with "an elementary command of the English language" there is the problem that "'professionalism' or 'work ethic' is the top 'applied' skill that younger workers lack."

What about that problem, Mr. President?  And what would the attitude of the striking Chicago teachers be doing to solve that one?

The two great hits against the modern era are its ruthless discipline: the ruthless factory and workplace discipline and the ruthless mechanism of the government bureaucracy.  But the question is, what happens when the government lacks the discipline to keep its accounts and its debt in order?  And what happens when the rising generation lacks the discipline to keep a job?

What's your take on that, Mr. President?  Do you remember?

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