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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

National Finances

With the current financial crises, it seems that the U.S. government (among other western governments) is stepping up to fill the financial holes in lots of things. Bailing out this or that, subsidizing this or that, guaranteeing, buying and even seizing companies and industries. The market tends to react favorably. This week, when the government stepped up to put hundreds of billions more into Citibank, the stock market rallied impressively. Clearly Wall Street was happy to see the U.S. government shelling out hundreds of billions on Citibank. It must have made the market feel secure.

But is it really true? Is it a fact that the hands of the U.S. government make something safer? Does the government really have that kind of money at its disposal? Will the government really have to pay these bills it's putting its name on? If so when? At what cost? I suspect that many Americans just don't have a clue as to the real answers to questions such as these. But the government is huge, the numbers are abstract, and it seems to take care of a perceived need. After all, Citibank was "too big to fail." But let me ask you: Is the U.S. government too big to fail?

I don't make a habit of endorsing the web sites or blogs of other people. But today, I'm going to make an exception. I encourage you to visit immediately. It is the web site of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Mr. Peterson is still alive; he's the founder of the Blackstone Group, a well known and well funded investment house. He's also a billionaire who is pouring most of his wealth into fighting problems that he thinks threaten the very foundations of America. I think he's right.

I have blogged before about the National Debt. It is a larger debt than has ever been known in the history of the world. The Peterson Foundation provides a quick education about what that looks like and what it means. They assemble facts from various sources (all of which they identify) and simply provide the education for you to know the truth. If you agree with Mr. Peterson that the issues are important and deserve to be addressed, then the web site tells you how you can get involved and join Mr. Peterson in fighting these grave threats.

I know, I know --- nobody likes to talk about problems or the national debt. It's too big to understand and solving it seems to complex for my simple mind. So I'll just not worry about it and try to be happy. Well, that may work if you plan to die in the next few years. But if you plan to live in this country for a few more years or have loved ones that do, this concerns you. Please, go visit the Peterson Foundation web site. Get a quick education about the facts and then look me in the eye and tell me that this isn't really that big of a deal.

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