Oh My …

Since none of you bothered to bid, it looks like Iceland is officially bankrupt:

The credit crunch claimed its first sovereign scalp last night as Iceland readied itself to accept an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. … The IMF may provide about $1 billion in emergency cash for Iceland with the balance lent by Norway, Sweden and Denmark and additional money possibly coming from Russia and Japan.

The IMF is likely to attach stringent conditions to the loan, including the stipulation that Iceland quickly deleverage its three nationalised banks Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitner.

Who’s next?  Pakistan? California? Did you forget Poland?

Report: Iceland to Accept IMF Bailout [Calculated Risk]

Along similar lines, but better (and a little bit of the “I told you so” category.)

Ripped from the Washington Monthly:
THE MONEY ISN’T THERE…. The severity of the financial crisis has affected the presidential campaign in obvious ways — as the McCain campaign has publicly acknowledged, the more Americans focus on the economy, the better it is for Obama — but it’s let’s not overlook another less obvious implication.

Remember all of those right-wing 527s that were going overwhelm the political landscape? As it happens, the conservative financiers have lost a lot of money lately.

“After the [GOP] convention, things looked good,” said Phil Musser, a Republican fundraising consultant. “Major donors interested in issue advocacy were tuned in, political juices were flowing, polling looked good, and then, blammo! Most donors lost 20 or 30 percent of their net worth in eight days. With few exceptions, that pretty well shut down the money discussion for a lot of folks.”

Four years ago, groups operating outside the party structure invested more than $130 million in television commercials, often carrying the kind of negative messages that the candidates themselves wished to avoid. This year, total spending by such groups is at about $17 million so far, with no single organization playing a dominant role, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

There were reports earlier this year, for example, that Freedom’s Watch was prepared to amass a quarter-billion dollar budget for the 2008 campaigns. Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson was expected to help bankroll the operation — that is, before he saw “$4 billion of his personal fortune evaporate as a result of the slumping national economy, and that was before the slow-motion stock market crash.”

On the other hand, as Michael Crowley noted, there’s the outside support Democrats are receiving:

The slowdown in giving appears to have had a disproportionate impact on Republicans. Obama holds an enormous money advantage in the closing weeks of the campaign. His ads have been bolstered by mail and phone-bank efforts largely financed by labor unions. The AFL-CIO alone has directed more than $50 million to persuade its members to support Obama and other Democrats.

If I were a betting man then the next is Pakistan. I wonder if they will give up their nooks or sell them to the highest bidder (I see you, Iran!)

@ManchuCandidate: to say nothing of the municipalities that will end up in the shitter.

@ManchuCandidate: I can only hope this wipes out Republican enclaves exclusively.

@blogenfreude: The only thing holding my state together is the massive demand for domestic steel, high sulfur coal and Rolling Rock beer. Oh, wait….

@ManchuCandidate: Yes, but I don’t see the IMF wanting to get their hands dirty there. More likely the Taliban will bail them out with opium money.

@ManchuCandidate: Imagine my best Nelson Muntz impression – HA HA!

Although, my dear dad is getting ready to turn 59.5, and watching the IRA that he has been socking money away in and had big plans for go down the toilet has not been fun for him.

@Dodgerblue: The Mission: Impossible people?

@homofascist: My retirement plan: work until I die.

My dad’s wondering if he’s going to have to go back to work (already on a pension.)

That’s my plan too.

@ManchuCandidate: A former partner here warned me against working too hard and eating lunch at my desk by telling of the respected senior Santa Fe lawyer and pillar of the Hispanic community who ate a plate of red chili enchiladas every day at his desk. Dude’s career ended when he had a heart attack and died, falling face first into the enchiladas.

Deth by enchilada. Mmmmmm.

This is a very humane law firm, btw. It’s what you make it. There are guys who put in their 6 1/2 days a week, compared to my 5 or a little less. Plus that, I bring cookies or bagels for the staff every Friday, a practice I started as an associate.

@ManchuCandidate: Well, Daddy HF has himself a sweet retirement plan that if any of us end up having we will be very, very lucky (I certainly won’t have anything close). I can’t imagine what those who are really relying on that money are going through.

@homofascist: I was in Wal-Mart last night when I saw a kid and his mom in the school supply aisle. She told him “if we can afford pencils, we’ll come back for these.” Pencils are three bucks.

BREAKING: Pew Research: McCain Collapses in Latest National Poll
A new Pew Research poll shows Sen. Barack Obama holds his widest national margin yet over Sen. John McCain, 53% to 39%, among likely voters.
– politicalwire.com

@redmanlaw: I retired at 24. Everything since then has been a variation on Wal-Mart Greeter.

@redmanlaw: If you feel like indulging your socialist tendencies and spreading the wealth around, Donors Choose is a great way to help get school supplies to the kids who need them. (I learned about them through Colbert’s show, of all things.)

@mellbell: That website makes me so sad and depressed that this is what our public schools have come to – begging on the Tubez for people to buy them school supplies. I mean, I’m glad this exists, but WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY?!?! Why are we bailing out every fucking banker but these teachers are begging for money to buy basic art supplies for fourth graders?

SFL is having a really shitty and stabby day today, if you can’t tell.

@mellbell: Thanks. It’s been bugging me all day. Something like that is just so big that you don’t know how to deal with it.

@ Lefty – I made the PTA at my kid’s school into a state non-profit corporation and partnered with a local educational 501(c)(3) so we could solicit tax-deductable contributions and foundation money. I got a $12,000 tech grant a couple of years ago for the corporation, which we then gave to the school. The principal decided that we were too independent for her liking so she had her stooges take it over after I quit in a dispute with her. Result: the non-profit died, the conventional PTA is back, and the kids are back to selling candy and wrapping paper with the proceeds going to a fund controlled by the principal.

My dad, too, but he’s still worried.

@Tommmcatt Yet Again:
I’m not kidding myself that I will have a pension when I hit retirement some 28 years away.

I have pension money socked away, but I’m not socking as much as I could.

That is really sad. I agree with SFL.

What makes me all stabby is this:
Cost of S&L bailout in 2003 dollars = $500 BILLION
Cost of Current Bailout is $1 TRILLION ++++++
Cost of Taxcuts to the eelights is $2-3 TRILLION so far
Cost of Combat Ops in Iraq is $2 TRILLION
Cost of deploying SDI (aka Star Wars)–even I think it’s useless = $500 BILLION

What could have been done with this money instead:
Cost of Single Payer Healthcare est around $1 TRILLION
Cost of one manned mission to Mars $800 BILLION
Cost of rebuilding US infrastructure $2-5 TRILLION
Cost of improvements to US education $10-$30 BILLION

Some numbers I’m pulling out of my ass. Some are barely remembered position papers I’ve read. Most are rough estimates.

@ManchuCandidate: Just think how many pencils and math books and dry-erase boards and working basketball nets that a trillion bucks could buy for our schools.

Yeah, the stabby feeling isn’t going away. Not so much.

@ManchuCandidate: There you go again, blinding us with your socialistic math. Everyone knows that your first set of numbers is essential to supporting the Monarch Beach economy.

The one number that pops out for me is for every buck put into military R&D, you generate a mere buck in the economy. For every buck in civvy R&D, you generate four to six bucks into the economy. Something the MICC (military industrial tinfoil complex) doesn’t like to advertise.

@SanFranLefty: Cut that shit out or you’re going to get someone to run for office to do stuff for Actual Real Americans. A kid’s life doesn’t end at birth, goddammit.

@ManchuCandidate: I’m not going to disagree with your numbers (in fact, I wholeheartedly agree with them) but this kind of logic doesn’t stand up, and it bugs me whenever this kind of thing comes up. The reason there isn’t a trillion dollar bill floating down on the head of US education (even if all the troops had magically never gone to protect our precious, precious oil in the middle east) is that no one wants to put it up.

There is a source for a trillion bucks for military spending. It may be debt. It may be selling T-bills to the Chinese, but there’s a source and a willingness to use it. No one is willing to put up the cash for education, infrastructure, healthcare, or any of that boring, non-explody stuff.

Until we get everyone (including the warmongering pigfuckers) to chant “U!S!A! U!S!A!” when a politician promises to make our education and healthcare #1 in the world, it just ain’t gonna happen. There’s no political will (to use a tired expression) to go into terrifying, kneecap-breaking debt for the “dubious” and “actual long-term” investment of educating our children well, or fixing healthcare so that maybe the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy might stop being medical bills.

My exceedingly short-sighted and local, but effective, solution to this problem is to staunchly ignore the 51% of America that loves blowing shit up, and volunteer to tutor at the local grade school. You’ll find me there on Thursday, the first day of tutoring this year.

@IanJ: And if you wanna get messy about it, there’s the tax base for many public schools: property taxes. It gets messy because local businesses get dinged as well as homeowners, so arguments can be made that it’s better than alternatives.

Either way, local school funding is at the mercy of local communities, and to me that’s always been fraught with problems. I was lucky enough to grow up in a good public school system, but that’s an accident of birth.

@IanJ: Former mentor and parent group president, fundraiser, asst Scout leader and current member of Indian Education Committee for the Santa Fe Public Schools. Mrs RML has spent the past three years on a committee looking at elementary enrollment, physical plant and capital outlay issues in preparation for an upcoming bond issue. The poor and middle class needed more space to reduce enrollments, but the affluent east siders got to keep their handful of boutique schools.

And as far as non-explody stuff goes, you can’t get more than 10 non-teachers or parent group officers at a meeting here, but every mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grampaw and grandma, cousin or whatever will turn out for a game or tournament even in bad weather. It’s like choosing to live at home and work to buy rims for the car instead of taking that several thousand dollars to go to college.

You have some valid points, but I’m just making a statement on what might have been.

It really angers me when I read about the S&L scandal which caused the fiscal crisis that Clinton had to deal with but also hamstrung the US because there was no Marshall Plan to help the WarPac nations post Cold War (might have made Russia more an ally then turn to a KGB slimeball like Pooty Poot.) Or even put money into say Afghanistan and avoid this whole global whu on turrah.

Even so, if you took that $2-3 Trillion into your infrastructure instead of Tax Cuts to the douchesacks you get a huge benefit. Jobs. Increased Tax Revenue. Good roads. Good sewers. Better environment (maybe). Internal demand (which is what drives your economy.) More capital spending. More opportunities then that 2-3 TRILLION becomes a, gasp, investment rather than a cost.

So yeah, I’m just saying…

As for volunteerism. Work in the local Professional Engineers Chapter. Secretary/Education Chair. Speak to high schools on engineering once/twice a year. Help run a competition for grade schoolers every year.

@ManchuCandidate (and everyone else): Yeah, I get the whole thing, and it makes me stabby-angry. It’s just always bugged me when the argument is made that “if we just took the money from X and gave it to Y:” it’s based on the usually-incorrect logic that “if money exists for X, it must also exist for Y.” I get the comparison, and I shouldn’t be so knee-jerk about it here (where I know that we’re actually talking about “1 F22 Raptor could equal 12 quadzillion pencils for needy children” and not “why don’t they shut down the war and spend that money on schools!?”).

And yeah, it’s really that the people who should be making the difference (all of us, by which I mean anyone who has used any of the educational, infrastructure, or healthcare systems I’m talking about) aren’t there doing it. We, as a nation, have decided that high-quality, long-term investments like that don’t make any sense, probably because we’re so focused on short-term returns.

Yeah, building good roads costs a lot of money. No, it doesn’t help your budget for the next five years. But over the course of twenty years (after which time, all the politicians who voted for it will be long gone), you’ll spend so much less on repair and replacement that it saves you money. Likewise (as we all know) education pays back at ridiculous rates, but it takes 20-30 years to do it.

The thing is, we (as a country) have the same belligerent, show-me-the-money attitude about everything. Yeah, we could have avoided a lot of this “terror” crap if we’d been helping Afghanistan instead of ignoring it, or fomenting revolution against the big bad Soviets. I’m getting out of my depth, though, so I’ll stop on this line of argument, but it feels like it should hold up.

Unfortunately, that would have been viewed as a “waste of money,” because if it provided benefits, they would have been unmeasurable (ie, no nice little tally of dollar signs). Of course, it’s also very likely that we’d do it wrong, and that really would have been wasted money — that’s been the case with a lot of the humanitarian stuff we’ve done. I don’t have a specific example, but there are memories of large-scale graft and corruption among distributors of humanitarian supplies in African countries jostling around in my head.

Sorry, none of this probably makes any sense. If so, I apologize, and please consider this my stabby rant against all the dipshits.

The Apollo program wasn’t without waste. The location of ground control in Houston was done at the behest of LBJ. It still worked and got man on the moon.

All I wanted to point out was the waste of money and time caused by the greed of a few that cost opportunities for many. Even if the W Admin did nothing of the sort as I listed (minus the S&L mess), the US would be in much better economic and international shape than it is today as it teeters on the brink of economic collapse and possible international irrelevancy.

@ManchuCandidate: And don’t forget one thing the Bushies gave Iraq – national health insurance.

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