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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 2, 2011 / 28 Nisan, 5771

Raising the ceiling on a cracked foundation

By Mark Steyn



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The other day Paul O'Neill said that …

Oh, wait. I suppose I ought to explain who Paul O'Neill is. A decade ago, he was President George W. Bush's first Treasury secretary. I have no very clear memory of him except that he toured Africa with Bono and they were photographed in matching tribal dress looking like Col. Gadhafi's Mini-Me twins at a Tripoli sleepover. Other than the dress-up fun, I've no idea why they were in Africa, but you paid for it, so I'm sure there was a good reason.

Anyway, Secretary O'Neill popped up the other day on Bloomberg Television to compare debt-ceiling holdouts to jihadists. "The people who are threatening not to pass the debt ceiling," he said, "are our version of al-Qaida terrorists. Really."

Really?

Absolutely.

"They're really putting our whole society at risk by threatening to round up 50 percent of the members of the Congress, who are loony, who would put our credit at risk."

But hang on, generally speaking, when you hit your "debt ceiling," your credit is at risk. If you've got a $10,000 credit card, and you run it up to the limit, but you need a couple more grand right now, pronto, because you outspend your earnings by 50 percent every month, and you have no plans to change that anytime soon, well, the bank might increase the limit to $15,000, or $20,000. Or they might not. There is a question mark over your credit because there is a question mark over your creditworthiness: It is at risk.

Paul O'Neill seems to regard that attitude as unhelpful. So does Timothy Geithner, his successor at what is still laughingly known as the United States Treasury. Secretary Geithner says that even to be discussing the debt ceiling is "a ridiculous debate to have."

Ridiculous?

Absolutely.

"I mean, the idea that the United States would take the risk that people would start to believe we won't pay our bills," continued Geithner, "is a ridiculous proposition, irresponsible, completely unacceptable." The best way to convince people to believe we'll pay our bills is to borrow up to our limit, and then increase the limit and borrow a whole bunch more. This would be the 75th increase in the debt ceiling in the past half-century. Let's just get it done, and resume the party.

But if Geithner thinks that even discussing the question is "ridiculous," then, as my colleague Jonah Goldberg put it, why have a debt limit at all? What's the point?

Well, because it gives us more credibility with our creditors, right? Even if we set the debt ceiling way up in cloud-cuckoo land to a bazillion trillion gazillion dollars and 83 cents, even a debt limit entirely unmoored from reality still gives the impression we haven't quite flown the coop.



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Yes, but why does the U.S. government need to maintain credibility with its creditors when increasingly it's buying its debt from itself? Every month there's more and more U.S. Treasury debt and fewer and fewer people who want it. The Chinese are reducing their exposure. The investment behemoth Pimco, which manages the world's largest mutual fund, recently dumped U.S. Treasuries entirely. To avoid the failure of U.S. bond auctions, or an increase in interest rates to make them more attractive to rational lenders, the U.S. government's debt is bought by the U.S. government's Federal Reserve.

I tried up above to come up with a real-world comparison for the debt ceiling – imagine you've got a credit card limit of 10K, etc – but it's harder to do that with the Fed's policy: Imagine your left hand issues an IOU to your right hand in return for an email with a large number on it …oh, never mind, it'll only make your head hurt. "Quantitative easing" is extremely quantitative if not terribly easing, so raising the debt ceiling would enable us to issue more debt for us to buy from ourselves. You can see why Secretary Geithner thinks that's a no-brainer.

While Jonah Goldberg was asking why have a debt limit at all, Michael Kinsley took it to the next stage: "If the national debt doesn't matter, why have taxes at all?" Particularly when you no longer have to "print" money, you can just quantitatively ease yourself into it. Once we raise the old debt ceiling, we'll be pretty much at the point where the U.S. government is spending four trillion but only taking in two trillion: For every dollar we raise in taxes, we spend two. No surprise there: The "poorest" half of the population pay no federal income tax. They're not exactly poor as the term would be understood in almost any other country, but in federal revenue terms they're dependents, so in order to fund government services for the wealthiest "poor" people on the planet we borrow money from a nation of subsistence peasants where pigs are such prized possessions they sleep in the house.

But, if you can spend four trillion, of which two trillion is borrowed, why not borrow three and make even more Americans dependent? Hell, why not borrow the whole lot? After all, the sums we're borrowing right now – $188 million every hour of every day – are unprecedented. Wouldn't it be easier if we just made them even more unprecedented? That way we could have a federal budget of six trillion, of which, say, five trillion is raised by issuing Treasury bonds for the Federal Reserve to buy. That would stimulate the economy by creating 17 jobs for any remaining Americans who still feel the need to leave the house every morning.

Now I think about it, I seem to remember Secretary O'Neill and Bono were swanking around Uganda and Ethiopia in tribal garb as part of the Irish rocker's campaign for African debt-forgiveness. Now there's an idea. And, if it works for Africa, why not closer to home? After all, Bono supported the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, and America is way more "heavily indebted' than Uganda will ever be.

Under the 2011 budget, every hour of every day the government of the United States spends a fifth of a billion dollars it doesn't have.

Who does have it?

Er, the Federal Reserve?

A few years ago, I raised the ceiling on my own house. You can do that – up to a point. It depends on whether your foundation is solid and your framing is structurally sound. But, even if they are, you take it too high, and the roof falls in. We're structurally about as screwed up as you can get, and the foundation is badly cracked. But hey, let's just jack the roof up a little higher one more time. What could go wrong?

At this stage, nothing does more damage to our "full faith and credit" than business as usual. If you're going to bandy glib, witless al-Qaida analogies, the conventional wisdom Paul O'Neill represents is the real suicide bomb here. Men like O'Neill and Geithner think they're quantitatively easing American decline. They're not. They're quantitatively accelerating American collapse.

Onward and upward!


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