News National Debt: Bush vs. Obama

  • Thread starter syano
  • Start date
  • Tags
    debt

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
Something missing from this discussion is any mention of ROI on spending. It's one thing to spend a billion dollars on a weapons system that benefits few, and another thing entirely if more of that money ends up in the pockets of wage-earners who will spend it and boost their local economies.

What would happen if the money the US spends on its military was spent on infrastructure, expanded power-distribution capacity, renewable energy sources such as wind-farms, and the like? There is a difference.

Edit: I dumbed-out and typed ROE instead of ROI. I'm sure you all know what I meant, but I changed it anyway. Our governmental spending ought to be evaluated in light of investment potential, not just bottom-line wrangling.
 
Last edited:
107
0
Something missing from this discussion is any mention of ROE on spending. It's one thing to spend a billion dollars on a weapons system that benefits few, and another thing entirely if more of that money ends up in the pockets of wage-earners who will spend it and boost their local economies.

What would happen if the money the US spends on its military was spent on infrastructure, expanded power-distribution capacity, renewable energy sources such as wind-farms, and the like? There is a difference.
It seems every time I suggest we should turn our military into a productive asset by charging other countries (or the UN) for protection - I'm (mildly) chastised?o:)

I do have a point. The Government could make direct investments in technology (such as wind farms). In turn, they could SELL the power at a rate at or below the cost (of production in a coal plant for instance) to the power companies - who would then re-sell and deliver to customers at a profit. In this manner, the Government would realize a long term return on investment, create green jobs, reduce our dependence on coal, and hopefully lower our electric costs.

Substantial tax incentives for "clean coal", oil shale or algae (go Ivan) research and development would also be a good thing.
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
It seems every time I suggest we should turn our military into a productive asset by charging other countries (or the UN) for protection - I'm (mildly) chastised?o:)
I wouldn't chastise you for that, but we are already too far into the "protection racket" model with mercenaries (contractors) acting in lieu of our armed military. (Edit: Does France owe us for saving them them from Germany twice in the 20th Century? They helped us with shipments of Charleville muskets during the Revolutionary War, though they were well-served by using our colonist ancestors in a proxy war against an old enemy - England.)

Anyway, I propose that we cut military spending drastically, and adopt a defensive stance, or else change the name back to the "Department of War" in the interests of honesty.

For a billion dollars, we can get 5 F-22 fighters, though that's just the up-front cost. Maintenance costs are projected at $50K per hour. Talk about a "money pit"!

What do we get if we invest in wind-farms? People have to do surveying and site-studies, upgrade transmission capacity, load-switching, etc, build roads, build foundations, build the wind turbine-generators, install them and maintain them. Each of these activities would generate US jobs, including mining and transporting sand and gravel, running concrete mix-plants, etc. We can do this entire project in the US and not outsource any jobs. T Boone Pickens is no dummy - this would be a win-win for the US - I just don't want to see him siphoning billions off it in sweetheart deals. Our country should do projects like this and put our citizens back to work building systems that will benefit us all. Roosevelt had the WPA to help put people back to work - it is foolish to pretend that we cannot do as well. I'd rather pay people decent wages to produce stuff that will benefit us all instead of sitting around wailing about lost jobs and trying to make up the income gaps with unemployment and charity programs.
 
Last edited:
107
0
I wouldn't chastise you for that, but we are already too far into the "protection racket" model with mercenaries (contractors) acting in lieu of our armed military.

I propose that we cut military spending drastically, and adopt a defensive stance, or else change the name back to the "Department of War" in the interests of honesty.

For a billion dollars, we can get 5 F-22 fighters, though that's just the up-front cost. Maintenance costs are projected at $50K per hour. Talk about a "money pit"!

What do we get if we invest in wind-farms? People have to do surveying and site-studies, upgrade transmission capacity, load-switching, etc, build roads, build foundations, build the wind turbine-generators, install them and maintain them. Each of these activities would generate US jobs, including mining and transporting sand and gravel, running concrete mix-plants, etc. We can do this entire project in the US and not outsource any jobs. T Boone Pickens is no dummy - this would be a win-win for the US - I just don't want to see him siphoning billions off it in sweetheart deals. Our country should do projects like this and put our citizens back to work building systems that will benefit us all. Roosevelt had the WPA to help put people back to work - it is foolish to pretend that we cannot do as well. I'd rather pay people decent wages to produce stuff that will benefit us all instead of sitting around wailing about lost jobs and trying to make up the income gaps with unemployment and charity programs.
I have 2 responses.

First, I never agreed with Reagan's military spending - regardless of outcome. Once you start down the military build up path, what do you do for an encore? Unless you use the weapons and need replacements - jobs will end.

Second, I agree that T. Boone is no dummy. However, I don't believe in giving anyone an instant monopoly.

There is a place for Government investment in research, the power grid, and even health care. The Government owns massive tracts of land and has (for practical purposes) unlimited resources.

If the Government invested in facilities and leased them to private companies to operate - on never ending operating leases - it would both realize a return on investment and stimulate the economy.

An example, (according to Wiki) the US Postal Service operates 32,741 post office locations in the US. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service Accordingly, it's scheduled to lose $7 billion this year. That's a loss of $213,799 per location???

WHAT, that can't be correct - someone please go behind my analysis. :eek: I wasn't expecting this outcome, but it's going to be very easy to make my point now.

I don't know the cost basis or even how many of these locations are owned by the Government or how many are leased - and that doesn't really matter. If the Government could learn to manage their properties better (maybe lease space to Starbucks for $2,500 base per month plus 6% of revenues?) they could realize a return. A rental profit of only $1,000 per month per location would yield nearly a $400 million annual return.

Debate on the topic isn't new.

I found this from 1922 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9401EFDB1F30E433A2575BC0A9639C946395D6CF

I know it's unfair to pick on the Post Office. But this strategy could be applied to hospitals/clinics, office buildings, nuclear plants, wind and solar plants, and yes - even housing. If the Government makes an investment, it should be entitled to a normal return on investment.

However, we all know what would happen. Congress (NBH (Nancy, Barney, Harry) & Co.) would require that people who aren't qualified to lease from the private sector be given preferential treatment and nobody would pay their rent.
 

Al68

What would happen if the money the US spends on its military was spent on infrastructure, expanded power-distribution capacity, renewable energy sources such as wind-farms, and the like?
The invading power would possess more windfarms.

It amazes me that the federal government spends ~18% of its budget on its main purpose, and some would suggest that's too much.

And the majority of the budget is spent violating the constitution, and they say that's not enough.
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,959
5,124
1. DJIA is now higher than when he got elected
So what?
2. Government has started earning profits on TARP investments
That fact has nothing to do with Obama
3. JObs are being created
Factually true but intentionally misleading, since unemployment is rising...rapidly
4. Roads are being repaired
As if they weren't being repaired before? Yes, I know a big part of the stimulus was money for road projects. These will be a big let-down in 6 months when the paving stops and those workers lose their jobs.
5. Airports are expanding services
No, flights are at their lowest levels since just after 9/11: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-09-13-big-airline-cuts_N.htm?POE=TRVISVA
6. Businesses are starting to see an upswing in consumer confidence
True.
7. unemployment rates fell in several states
Possibly true, but so what? Unemployment rates rose in most states.
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
The invading power would possess more windfarms.
Now that is some impressive paranoia! Can you name one country capable of invading and occupying the US? I thought not.
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,959
5,124
Now that is some impressive paranoia! Can you name one country capable of invading and occupying the US? I thought not.
Uh, turbo, you just said you would eliminate the US military. So after that, just about any country could invade and occupy the US!
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,959
5,124
It amazes me that the federal government spends ~18% of its budget on its main purpose, and some would suggest that's too much.

And the majority of the budget is spent violating the constitution, and they say that's not enough.
Agreed. I'm sure it would boggle the minds of the founding fathers to see how our government spends money (and how much!).
 

Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,734
99
lol. No, but I could name a couple hundred of them if we had no military. :biggrin:
Even if we had no military, the vast majority of nations would still be incapable of moving an actual invasion force to our country. And of those who do have the technology and money, many don't have the population necessary (for example, Finland has 5 million people in it.... which simply isn't enough to support an occupation of a country this size).

So while there would be countries capable of invading and occupying the US, the number would not be very large actually
 

Al68

Even if we had no military, the vast majority of nations would still be incapable of moving an actual invasion force to our country. And of those who do have the technology and money, many don't have the population necessary (for example, Finland has 5 million people in it.... which simply isn't enough to support an occupation of a country this size).

So while there would be countries capable of invading and occupying the US, the number would not be very large actually
Sure, the actual number would be much less. Due also to the fact that any small country that tried it would have to contend with the more powerful countries.

But my response was intended as humor, not actual analysis.
 

Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,734
99
Sure, the actual number would be much less. Due also to the fact that any small country that tried it would have to contend with the more powerful countries.

But my response was intended as humor, not actual analysis.
No, they would simply be incapable of invading the US. Take Fiji. The Fijan navy is designed solely to ensure sovereign control over its territorial waters. It is completely, 100% incapable of moving an attack force from Fiji to the United States of America, and supplying it during the invasion. Even if it was, the entire miltary of Fiji, including reserves, is less than 10,000 people. With numbers like that, it's physically impossible to invade a nation the size of the United States of America.

The population of San Fransisco is 8,000,000. The number of people in Iraq is less than 4 times that, yet we had about 20 times the size of Fiji's military in Iraq. Fiji's military would be incapable of taking and occupying the city of San Francisco.

Fiji isn't unique in this. The vast, vast majority of nations are not organized enough, technologically capable and large enough to enact an invasion of the United States. The United States has difficulty occupying a country 1/10th its size in the form of Iraq, how many countries would truly be able to hold onto a country the size of the US? My guess at the moment is nobody. Especially considering the US has little natural resources for its size, and its main economic strength is in its political stability and strong infrastructure, invading the country would have little benefit.

While the comment may have originally been for humorous purposes, it definitely brings to light the question of: Is there an actual threat of invasion and occupation by a foreign power? Who's capable of doing it, and what advantage would they gain by doing it?
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
Uh, turbo, you just said you would eliminate the US military. So after that, just about any country could invade and occupy the US!
I didn't say that I would eliminate the military. We just don't need all the weapons systems (especially offensive capabilities) that we have currently. That's very different.
 
246
6
This probably provides the best perspective on debt - the debt as a percentage of GDP
http://zfacts.com/metaPage/lib/National-Debt-GDP.gif
http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

Interestingly, it looks like the tax-and-spend democrats win hands down.
I think that is a rather simplistic and disingenuous way of looking at the data, since it does not acknowledge the branch of government that actually controls the purse strings of the government, the congress.

Like, for instance, during the Reagan years, Democrats were firmly in charge. The deficit spending should largely be looked at as a compromise between the Reagan administration which wanted to dramatically cut taxes and cut spending on social services while increasing the military budget and the Democrat-controlled congress, which wanted to preserve social services.

Likewise, during the Clinton administration, the balancing of the budget was done by Clinton and the Republican-dominated congress, so they both deserve credit for that.

During the Bush years, most of the budget was passed while congress was split or while Republicans controlled it, so the combination of increased spending with decreased taxation (leading, of course, to massive national debt) was mostly the responsibility of President Bush and the Republicans in congress.

Neither party has a monopoly on fiscal responsibility (not spending more than the government makes in revenue).

As for Obama, a lot of economic experts are advising spending over balancing the budget to stimulate the economy. I have no idea how fiscally sound that theory is, but I think we should probably wait to judge the current leadership in Washington until their term is over, when we can get a better idea of how the policies being enacted today will affect the economy and the national debt.
 

mheslep

Gold Member
254
728
Now that is some impressive paranoia! Can you name one country capable of invading and occupying the US? I thought not.
After 9/11, 7/7, and on and on, obviously invasion is not the main threat.
 
Last edited:

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
After 9/11, 7/7, and on and on, obviously invasion is not the main threat.
So did the Bush/Cheney war, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens make you feel safer?

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, so using that as a justification for more war is irrational. If you want to punish the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, freeze the bank accounts of wealthy Saudis who fund the radical fundamentalists who actually did the deed. Don't slaughter innocent people in a country that had nothing to do with the attacks.
 
107
0
Like, for instance, during the Reagan years, Democrats were firmly in charge. The deficit spending should largely be looked at as a compromise between the Reagan administration which wanted to dramatically cut taxes and cut spending on social services while increasing the military budget and the Democrat-controlled congress, which wanted to preserve social services.
I'm doing this from memory. I seem to recall Carter being on TV quite often with charts and graphs discussing our military capabilities versus the Soviets. Carter whined and flipped through his information, while inflation and unemployment soared and hostages lingered in Iran.

Reagan was elected with a promise of change and assured the nation. The timing of the release of hostages helped to calm fears. He basically said don't worry - I'll take care of it - and everyone seemed to rest easier.

As for spending, Reagan spent so much money in an arms escalation that many believe he collapsed the Soviet Union. I happen to think their collapse was inevitable. But, Reagan is largely credited.

A by-product of his spending was defense jobs and a huge up-tick in the economy - and lower interest rates followed. Both of those ingredients, along with tax cuts to spur direct investment in business took us out of Carter's recession.

Clinton faced a different set of problems - apples to oranges. Clinton had to put the brakes on spending and top priority became the balanced budget. Clinton got credit, but Congress cooperated and made it happen. Again, this is off the top of my head and mostly opinion.
 

mheslep

Gold Member
254
728
So did the Bush/Cheney war, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens make you feel safer?

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, so using that as a justification for more war is irrational. If you want to punish the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, freeze the bank accounts of wealthy Saudis who fund the radical fundamentalists who actually did the deed. Don't slaughter innocent people in a country that had nothing to do with the attacks.
A whatta what? Iraq? Bush/Cheney? Can we have any kind of coherent conversation any more? We are talking about the size and scope of military spending. My first instinct is not to punish anyone, especially since most of them are dead, but to prevent the like from happening again, especially from those who still say that's exactly what they want to do.
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
Lets look at recent history here. I said that making investments in our infrastructure would be healthier for our country than all this runaway military spending. Then Al said that the US could be invaded and Russ claimed that I wanted to scrap the military (a blatant misrepresentation) and then you dragged 9/11 into it as if it had some sort of relevance to the concept that reducing military spending is dangerous. You guys are pretty nimble - misrepresenting my stance and dodging from excuse to excuse.
 

mheslep

Gold Member
254
728
You didn't qualify. You left the question open as to as what you meant:
turbo-1 said:
[...]What would happen if the money the US spends on its military was spent on [...something else]
.. you dragged 9/11 into it as if it had some sort of relevance to the concept that reducing military spending is dangerous. ...
It absolutely does have relevance to military spending. These kind of attacks illustrate what can be done by para military and guerrilla groups if left to themselves. Suggesting that all the US has to do to prevent such threats is to lock some Saudi bank accounts is not reasonable. The US president as well as many of the leaders of NATO have made clear that part of what's needed to prevent more of the same is to deny the Taliban and Al-Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan. It is vastly expensive to project the force the US currently fields in Afghanistan. No other nation has anywhere near enough military means to do the job (that far away).

BTW, I don't believe the US needs some of its big ticket defense items, and I'm glad to see Gates killing them. But that would never lead me to make the open ended statement you did above.
 
107
0
Lets look at recent history here. I said that making investments in our infrastructure would be healthier for our country than all this runaway military spending. Then Al said that the US could be invaded and Russ claimed that I wanted to scrap the military (a blatant misrepresentation) and then you dragged 9/11 into it as if it had some sort of relevance to the concept that reducing military spending is dangerous. You guys are pretty nimble - misrepresenting my stance and dodging from excuse to excuse.
I thought we were talking about the National Debt - hence my "Reagan was the mother of all subsequent spenders" rant.

However, Clinton and Gingrich realized where we were headed and pulled us back. But apparently we haven't learned a thing.

If you look closely at the posted chart - Obama is taking us to the exact point we would have been if Clinton and Gingrich did nothing.
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
I thought we were talking about the National Debt - hence my "Reagan was the mother of all subsequent spenders" rant.

However, Clinton and Gingrich realized where we were headed and pulled us back. But apparently we haven't learned a thing.

If you look closely at the posted chart - Obama is taking us to the exact point we would have been if Clinton and Gingrich did nothing.
My point (though misrepresented and dragged into la-la land) was that not all debt is created the same. If we spend a billion dollars to get 5 5-22s at $200M each, that makes a lot of money for some defense contractors with little benefit to our economy. Spend an equivalent amount building wind-farms, and we would be financing some labor-intensive work, employing skilled trades-people who would then have more money to spend. They are both debts, but one has large short-term pay-back in both economic stimulation and reduction of our over-dependence on foreign energy, which I consider to be a threat to our national security.
 
107
0
My point (though misrepresented and dragged into la-la land) was that not all debt is created the same. If we spend a billion dollars to get 5 5-22s at $200M each, that makes a lot of money for some defense contractors with little benefit to our economy. Spend an equivalent amount building wind-farms, and we would be financing some labor-intensive work, employing skilled trades-people who would then have more money to spend. They are both debts, but one has large short-term pay-back in both economic stimulation and reduction of our over-dependence on foreign energy, which I consider to be a threat to our national security.
And to bring us full circle - I'll say it again - unless we can charge countries protection money, the investment in military hardware doesn't provide a return on investment the way a direct investment in an economically productive asset could.
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
And to bring us full circle - I'll say it again - unless we can charge countries protection money, the investment in military hardware doesn't provide a return on investment the way a direct investment in an economically productive asset could.
That's true. It's lost money. Fiscal conservatism is the first victim when the hawks control the DoD and have free rein to establish spending policies. If you oppose wasteful spending on projects that don't address our country's needs, the flag-waving and chest-thumping starts, cowing the ignorant and silencing the fearful. Few in DC have the guts to try to rein in waste in the military or bring our troops home, for fear of being accused of not "supporting our troops". Eisenhower knew that we were heading into this problem decades ago, and our country has not managed to address it effectively. Starting and perpetuating unjust, unnecessary wars is not a conservative activity by a long shot and the wasted revenue is a threat to our country's economic health.
 

Related Threads for: National Debt: Bush vs. Obama

  • Posted
Replies
16
Views
4K
  • Poll
  • Posted
Replies
9
Views
3K
  • Posted
2
Replies
33
Views
11K
Replies
119
Views
12K
Replies
16
Views
3K
Replies
38
Views
9K
Replies
22
Views
6K
  • Posted
2
Replies
42
Views
4K

Hot Threads

Top