Thursday, September 22, 2011

Funny Stuff

The two jokes formally known as Cal Thomas and Tom Friedman are in the Picayune again this morning. Cal spends his time rubbing off the letters on his keyboard trying to polish the image of Texas and Texans, apparently hoping some of the shine will reflect well on Rick Perry.  He anchors his intimate knowledge of the lone star state with the fact that he once lived there for an undisclosed period of time.  My guess is for about ten minutes during the Paleolithic period, which those of us familiar with the place know came to an end around 1967.  Cal, however, two paragraphs into his riff on explaining the quaint place names and colloquialisms betrays his inability even to spell Nacogdoches, which happens to be the oldest town in the state.  What would you expect?  For hilarious stupidity, this guy never disappoints.

Speaking of which, we then come to Tom Friedman.  Here is a guy with spelling problems of a different kind.  He regularly proves he couldn't spell economics if run over by a truck full of dictionaries.  He once again calls for cutting Social Security and Medicare to reduce the federal debt.  So many things are wrong with those notions time will not allow examining them in full.  Here is a rapid run through.

First, the current crippling economic malady is not a debt crisis; it is a dire lack of growth, which minute by minute threatens to slip again into out and out contraction.  There is a dearth of private economic activity and spending; if the federal government goes into reverse, it is all over but the hard landing at the end of the next great crash.

Second, Social Security is not a cause of federal deficit spending.  It is a creditor of the federal government.  It holds 2.4 trillion dollars in Treasury bonds.  In other words, it actually pays for many of the outrageously wasteful federal excesses, like immoral wars and tax giveaways to the super rich.  Still, it has sufficient assets to be fully funded through 2038, and would stay 100% sound indefinitely simply by having the rich fairly pay in on total earnings, like the rest of us.

Third, Friedman calls for cutting Medicare benefits.  He should be calling for reducing the cost of health care.  This is done elsewhere in the developed world by reigning in the criminally high prices extorted from us by the major drug companies, and not subjecting medical care costs and decisions to the profitable plundering of parasitical insurance companies.  In other words, we need to cut Medicare only in the sense that we should replace it with single payer universal coverage throughout the country.  Perhaps then we would cease to be ranked 17th in health care outcomes and 1st in cost, as compared to all the other nations in the world.

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