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View Diary: How to be the Smartest Guy in the Room (154 comments)

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  •  You mean you give up? (1+ / 0-)
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    Come on, at least venture a guess. I wouldn't have guessed it myself before I found out, but it's something useful to know for debt debates.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 08:26:54 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  kovie, no surrender, ever from me. I'm just on a (1+ / 0-)
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      short chain for deadlines, looking for someone to spell it out.

      •  Well, since no one else seems to be interested (10+ / 0-)

        Here it is. Ready? It wasn't even in the 20th century, let alone under Clinton (or, gasp, Reagan!). Nor the 3 conservative Repubs in the 20's. Nor in the late 19th century in the corporate welfare Robber Baron era.

        It was 1835-6, under Jackson, for a single damn year. And he did it by killing the 2nd national bank (the precursor to the Fed) and severely cutting federal spending. And you know what happened? Instead of an economic boom, it directly caused the Panic of 1837, at that time the worst economic downturn in US history. See, Jackson was basically a teabagger, i.e. a racist, populist, anti-elitist megalomaniac who didn't understand economics or money.

        The only other time we had no debt? Under Jefferson, in 1807 or so. He too severely cut spending, which led to a similarly disasterous recession (and, eventually, the War of 1812, which his cutbacks left us unready for).

        Otherwise, we've literally been in debt since 1776. And we've done ok by it.

        As Hamilton famously said:

        A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.

        Letter to Robert Morris, April 30, 1781

        He was right. Still is.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 09:24:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  kovie, thank you, right you are matey. For the (2+ / 0-)
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          kovie, Pluto

          poor, ravaged by a Revolution, debt was a means of servitude to the British.  Any records on the debt to the British wiped out by the Revolution?  

          PS: (Hamilton is not my favourite founding father.  I'm not a banker, so take it with a shot at the Federal banking system.)

          •  Well, a lot of that debt was dishonestly assessed (4+ / 0-)

            In fact one of the motivating factors behind the revolution was justified anger at Britain's mercantilist policies towards the colonies, in which colonists were only allowed to sell to and buy from British-approved merchants, financed by British banks, at preset rates, which often made the colonists go deeper and deeper into debt no matter how well they ran their businesses or farms.

            So while I don't know whether any of this debt was repaid (I'm guessing that some was but most wasn't), a lot of it was excessive and unjustified.

            As for Hamilton, I think he unnecessarily gets a bad rap from the left because he was aligned with commercial and financial interests, which is kind of weird because they were the ones that made the US the more prosperous country in the world by the mid-19th century--without creating the great poverty and inequality that became common after the Civil War, and which made the end of slavery inevitable because it was economically untenable--and all he did was recognize the importance of a sound, modern economic and financial system, and put one in place. We can't really blame him for the corruption of those who followed him. And who was the alternative, Jefferson, the original economically ignorant states rights small guvmint white racist pro-slavery teabagger?

            Hamilton was not without his faults, of course, e.g. the Whiskey Tax and his militarism and imperialism. But he was also one of this country's finest public servants, and quite possibly its most brilliant and essential. What Madison was to our political system, Hamilton was to our economic and financial system.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 09:47:34 AM PST

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            •  kovie, thank you again. The debt was repaid in (1+ / 0-)
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              WW1 and WW2, imho.

              •  Paid ON these wars, not IN these wars (2+ / 0-)
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                foucaultspendulum, TheMomCat

                It took decades to pay off both, and we did ok. Debt is what fuels capitalism.

                It's freaking part of the name, wingnuts!!!

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 10:22:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  kovie, it took centuries for US to consider the (1+ / 0-)
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                  concept of "collective guilt".

                  Wingnuts is not sufficient to describe what fuels capitalism.  It's greed.  

                  Ask Mr. Greenspan, of course, his comments in the past have crossed the light fantastic, and there will be plausible denial .

                  •  I meant capitalism in the most general sense (1+ / 0-)
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                    Which involves the accumulation and use of capital, necessarily in the form of debt, or else only those who already have capital could use it, which would mean a mostly closed system that could never really grow.

                    Debt is what makes it possible for capitalist economies to grow (i.e. increase the amount of capital) and expand (i.e. enable more entities to have access to it) as fast and broadly as they do. This is as true for governments as it is for companies and individuals. Wingnuts don't seem to get this, or want to.

                    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                    by kovie on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 03:29:14 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

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