Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CBO Says It's Over in 15 Years

Borepatch has an excellent video by Bill Whittle (does Whittle do any that aren't excellent?) on the sad truth of the economy.  The highlight of the video is an exchange between Paul Ryan and Treasury Secretary Elfin Geithner, and it includes something that has been talked about in the economatrix but not very widely.  Ryan says the Congressional Budget Office has said that unless the current spending plans are stopped, the US economy will collapse by 2027 - that's 15 years from now.  Geithner essentially says "we don't have a plan to fix it, we just don't like yours" to Paul Ryan, so the Secretary of the Treasury, the most powerful guy in the economy (at least, in the structure) is happy to do nothing to fix the structural problems; just kick the can and hope it doesn't all collapse.  Go watch. 
Silly linear thinking - we don't have anywhere near 15 years.  I can't give you an exact date, but how about if I said we have five years plus or minus five?  15 years is based on how the CBO thinks the world will unfold in the coming years.  But anyone who has ever worked on a big project in industry or government will tell you no complex program has ever followed its original schedule and it's a worn out military cliche that "no battle plan ever survived contact with the enemy".

The value of the CBO saying the country ceases to exist in any time frame is that the fact our country is headed for collapse is now out in the open.   Fifteen years isn't that long.  I've worked at my current job 16.  The Simpsons has been on the air for over 20 years.  

Unfortunately, comments get taken over by a goober named Goober who wants to blame everything on "Boomers".  He spends paragraphs blaming it all on the Boomers and then has the gall to finish it up with:
When my generation has been in charge for the last 40 years, and God forbid we're still robbing from our kids for our retirement, I'll universally lambast MY generation, too. You have my word on that - I'm nothing if not fair.

It is hard to write about the actions of a generation, because I am a person that focuses more on the actions of a individual rather than the acts of groups of individuals.
So anybody who fought this all their life and voted against it all their life, and saved all their life because they knew the system would break, those people are all to blame just because they're in that age group?  Exactly what else were those people supposed to do?  Start an open civil war? 

What crappy defective thinking that is!  A favorite saying of mine goes, "you can't out think someone that isn't thinking" - it's not worth arguing with them.  Clarity of thought is something I try to emphasize here. 

I wrote on this problem more recently than I thought, and it's widespread. To borrow a quote from that post, it fits here perfectly with very minor edits (just removing the poster's name):
Not to pick on him in particular, it's the idea. The idea that one generation is responsible for the mess we're in is a poisonous thought, and it's the kind of easy, "let's find a scapegoat" thought that can spread, especially if the SHTF and society collapses.  When people are desperate and hungry, they can whip themselves into a frenzy with ideas like that.
Farther down, about another "hate the boomers" example:
This writer, and I would assume many like her, believes the breakdown of the system is caused by her parents and grandparents, who made the mistake of believing the promises of politicians, much like union members who believed they could retire in their 50s and live on fat pensions paid for out of unicorn droppings. 
Returning to the SHTF scenario,
The problem is, as I posted in reply, when the angry mob comes to "kill all the old boomers", they're not going to wait for you to show them how frugally you've lived, or that you pride yourself in not having taken handouts, or that you fought government expansion and the crippling debt with all you could.  It's going to be mob rule: kill or be killed. When you're pondering a polygonal war space or Matt Bracken's CW2 cube, this adds another complication, that the people you are helping - or fighting alongside - will be firing on you as soon as it's convenient.  
And my last words in the last comment:
It's way too simple to blame it on the old people. Or their parents. My engineer's perspective is that I don't care who screwed it up as much as what I can do to fix it. The only value of knowing who broke it is to keep them from sabotaging my repairs.
In the end there's no such thing as generations.  There's no such thing as race.  There's no such thing as ethnic groups.  There's only people who choose to act in certain ways.  But then we don't get our convenient little scapegoats do we?  And we might have to think hard and critically.  Can't have that, now, can we?  


  1. I've been trying to deal with the "you Boomers screwed it all up" meme for some time, to no avail, of course. My favorite expression along those lines is: "Honor doesn't permit me to have a battle of wits with an unarmed man (or woman)."

    These poor, deluded fools just don't get the fact they are buying into the "99%", OWS, "Capitalism Sucks", Marxist meme. "The Rich, The Boomers, The Capitalists, The Corporations, The Republicans, The Jews" did it. Just like Geithner and all the rest, they have no solution, only the ability to stone some poor bastard to death because they simply _have_ to blame someone.

    I hope the suckage doesn't get so bad that I end up having to cap everyone under 30 who gets within 600 yards of my front porch. I'd much rather be teaching them, sharing what skills and experience I have gained in 60+ years, working to help keep civilization going for a few more generations.

    1. Yeah, you and I and LeverAction talked a while about it in that old post I linked to. I fight it whenever I can.

  2. I don't think we have 15 years ... I'm not sure we have until the elections ... but then, what is "The End"? I think one aspect has already come and gone.

    Using Germany of the 1930s is getting cliche-ish ... but did anyone in Germany of say 1936 (Summer Olympics) expect 1939? 1945?

    Luckily (???) I think I'm still young enough to be able to defend myself and family if need be ... perhaps walk a long way to "safety" - with a little luck ... if any can be found. Walking will be about the only mode of dependable transportation ... at least after the initial meltdown.

    Oh, well. I need to lose 20 pounds or so anyway.

  3. Off topic:
    Hey! I just discovered something interesting. When I tried to add the above comment via Wordpress, I couldn't get through the whatever-it-is that Blogger screens with.
    But - when I posted as Name/URL, it went through.

    Love software development...

    1. To err is human, but to really screw things up requires software.