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You are currently viewing archive for February 2008
Posted By Bakari

oh, wait - yes they do.


Since I AM biodiesel hauling.


However, this in no way is even remotely related to the business.


I just figured that since I am paying for web server space, I may as well host my own blog.

The first couple dozen entries were originally Craigslist Rant&Rave postings, rewritten for my MySpace blog, and everything after that is from my MySpace blog (except where noted, mostly letters to the editors).


This way, if MySpace suddenly explodes, I don't lose all my old thoughts forever.  Not unless the entire internet crashes at once.


Come to think of it, maybe I should print this stuff out too...

Posted By Bakari

Couple years ago I posted about trends in the US government spending (it popped back up to the top because I updated the first graph)
Since then of course the trend I described has only increased and intensified.

Today I look forward instead of backward, and suggest something crazy!

Our government debt is growing faster than GDP.  Now they say that the housing "crises" is likely to spur another rescission.  The war is still going on, the eminent running out of social security funds hasn't been addressed, and taxes on capital gains, stock dividends, and inheritance have been reduced or eliminated and those that haven't been already made permanent are still in the works.

The finance problems in housing loans was primarily due to people deliberately purchasing houses out of their price range with the assumption that the market would not only go up forever, but would continue to go up at the same rate is was at the time.
It didn't, since much of what sent it up was the very speculation based on that assumption, sort of like the non-sense a decade ago.
And they ran out of money, couldn't make the payments.

The country is being run the same way, on extended credit, on the assumption that GDP will always grow fast enough to encourage outside investors.

But as a recession dawns, spending increases and revenue decreases, the dollar continues to fall against the Yen and the Euro.

Part of the draw in buying US currency, (both in the form of federal bonds, which pays for nearly 9% of all federal spending) and by buying into the American economy (real estate, stock in US companies etc.) is our large overall economy and its fairly consistent growth, but a large part is just that the US dollar has been recognized as the dominate international currency for a long time now.

(note that data from the treasury website don't seem to add up, nor do they perfectly match the wiki data - but they are all fairly close.  Also, I rounded the numbers off)

In 2007:
Total US government debt: $59,100 billion
(44% of total held by foreigners)
(25% by foreign governments specifically)

$1,697 billion total federal receipts (revenue)
48.8% income tax
36.4% SS/medi-care
10.4% corporate

$2,887 total outlay (government spending)

Real deficit=$1,190 billion 

The entire $869 of SS taxes paid in '07 is included in the official receipts, however the time when there are more retirees than workers is fast approaching, and any money spent from the fund will have to be repaid - and will not have gained any interest in the meantime.  In fact, they do spend SS funds, but this is borrowing, not real income

Revenue only pays for 59% of the budget of the government.


<entire blog at MySpace>


Posted By Bakari

NOTE:  let me say upfront that I think this entire entry is a gross oversimplification.

We (Americans) aren't very smart.

Oh sure, there are plenty of individuals to prove me wrong; but as a whole, as a nation, I think it would be hard to argue.

But we are like the school bully or the rich kid (whose parents think it's good for him to go to public school).  We get our way all the time, and no one dares to point out to us how dumb we are.

We alone still use the English system of measurement, being afraid to learn something new, even if it's far easier in the long run.  50% of us believe in literal creationism (dinosaurs are either a hoax perpetrated by scientists and/or the devil, or they died in Noah's flood), and another 40% believe in intelligent design(1). Contrast this England, where 97% of Priests and Ministers don't believe in literal creationism(2)! 20% of us think the sun revolves around the earth,  and 11% can not find the US on an unmarked world map.(3,4)

Clearly we have the resources.  We have by far the largest total GDP, as well as one of the highest per capita in the world.(5,6)

So why is it this way?


I don't know.

For once, I can not even pretend to have any answers.

I don't like how this blog is turning out.
I think I will erase the whole thing and start over.

We'll see.


For once it seems that the conservatives and libertarians have at least part of it right.

As it turns out, the US spends more per student than a great many other industrialized countries, the majority of which have students at all levels that can out preform ours.(7,8)
Private schools in the US also spend less money per student, yet have better test scores and higher graduation rates.
There is of course a number of more complex issues than money - kids in private schools have parents involved enough to not only pay the tuition, but to choose a specific school for their kid, put in the time to find it and enroll them, and a more involved parent willing to pay extra for education is more likely to have been well educated themselves, to have begun teaching stuff like counting and the alphabet early, and to have sent the child to preschool and kindergarten.

However in at least one US school district that was studied, it was also true that for the equivalent size, the public schools had twice the administrative staff compared to the private schools, and half the teachers.(9)
While spending overall divided by number of students is higher, a great proportion of that is wasted on administration, management, and bureaucracies.

Unfortunately it looks like if anything, the efforts meant to improve public schools are aimed largely at management and bureaucracy.  Poorly preforming schools have control handed over to larger and more distant entities, the district becomes more involved, and eventually the state takes over entire districts.  Increasingly complex and demanding rules govern funding, with policy set at the state and federal level, and teachers are taken out of the classroom (and replaced with subs) for mandatory training and professional development regardless of how well their doing or what they may have been working on in the classroom that day otherwise.

There seems to be something disturbingly self-defeating about much of our education policy,


<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

Whether history teaches us to be optimistic or pessimistic is only a matter of when and where you choose to look.

There have been wars at least as long as there has been civilization - which of course continues to today.
Empires have risen, Persian, Chinese, Mongolian, Ottoman, Aztec, Inca, British, USSR.
Some lasted for centuries, some covered the majority of the world (that the culture knew of).
Every one of them fell, for one reason or another, eventually.

That could give hope that the US, which is extending influence both culturally, politically, and militarily throughout the world, will inevitably follow - but its seems obvious that it will be replaced by another - no matter the ideals in begins in, it will inevitably grow corrupt. They all do.

In the 3rd century BC the Egyptian library/museum at Alexandria contained the collected knowledge of the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, the largest in the world. While the circumstances of its destruction are debated, it was apparently due to some combination of war and religious fundamentalism.

The civilizations of the Mediterranean created, among other things, plumbing, calculus, and democracy (but only for white male property owners) - and at the hight of the Roman Empire, a popular spectator sport involved watching humans fight to the death, and eventually flooding the coliseum to create mock sea battles - but with real weapons - for the entertainment of government and the wealthy.
In the Dark Ages, as Rome fell, much of the infrastructure was allowed to fall to ruins, and everything from libraries to aqueducts was lost - along with the education and intellectual development that had accompanied it, and much already acquired knowledge and technology was lost.
Then came about the forced conversion of people in Europe, Asia, and Africa to Christianity and Islam, as well as wars between the two (the Crusades) - ultimately spreading throughout the world, and, of-course, lasting to the present.
Europe's renaissance consisted largely of no more than the re-discovery of things which had been previously known, but lost.

For every Ghandi there has been a Hitler and a Mussolini. For every Roosevelt and Carter we've had a Regan, A Bush, and a Bush Jr. Lenin's "people's revolution" turned quickly into Stalin's purges.
Che failed to start a revolution, and after all of Chavez's work, today immigrants still work in pesticide laden fields for far less than minimum wage while middle class Americans with far more comfortable lives advocate criminalizing them for it.

For all the noise the anti-war movement made, American troops pulled out because the North Vietnamese won.
In fact, the non-violent success Ghandi seemingly had happened to be at a time when the British Empire was already in decline with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, and Iraq becoming officially fully independent in (or around) 1931, and their military over extended worldwide - a guerrilla war with Ireland, the aftermath of WWII, and calls (and actions) for independence throughout the British Empire in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. For 40 years India had sought independence, but it was not until these - often violent - worldwide events came along that it was finally granted.
Then, almost immediately, (as British representatives had predicted) the country split, and the potentially violent stand-off between newly formed Pakistan and India (both of which have nukes) has lasted to this day. So much for non-violence.

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