Wednesday, August 10, 2011

America's Economy Isn't Doomed?!

This post really does belong in a 'religious' blog.

AAA to AA+ - Or, Not

Standard & Poor's lowered the United States government's credit rating from AAA to AA+ on Friday: for the first time.

President Obama says they're wrong, and that the government's rating really is AAA.1

Somewhat more believably, two other major rating agencies, Fitch and Moody's, say S & Poor's shouldn't have downgraded the federal government's rating.2

About what the president said, I don't know why he said that S & P was wrong. Maybe:
  • He's like the CEO who announces that his company is just fine
    • While making travel arrangements to someplace without an extradition treaty
  • President Obama is just trying to raise morale
  • The whole S & P downgrade is just a big misunderstanding

Did Anybody Not See This Coming?

I found out, decades back, that America was running low on working-age taxpayers to pay retirees. Since then, I haven't counted on my Social Security check to get me through the over-65 years. And I sympathize with folks who didn't see what was coming.

Still, I'm no economist.

Maybe Standard & Poor's goofed.

Maybe Moody's and Fitch are right.

Maybe Congress has been doing a fine job for decades.

Maybe all these years of spending more money than they take from us, running the Social Security system like a Ponzi scheme - which loyalists say it isn't, making "congressional ethics" sound like an oxymoron, and then raising the debt limit when they finally hit the wall, really is what a bunch of presumably-responsible, comparatively-sober grownups should have been doing.

I don't think so, and I discussed that back in April:
If you get the idea that I'm not entirely pleased with the way Congress, and the rest of the federal government, has been acting since I started voting - you're right.

Next, why I'm writing about tawdry, worldly affairs in a 'religious' blog.

Rules and the Catholic Citizen

I'm a practicing Catholic, so I'm not allowed to say things like "I take no interest in politics." Not when I'm a citizen in a country where folks are supposed to have some say in how their leaders act.

Actually, some religious orders do encourage withdrawing from the world, and that's okay, too. Also another topic.

Getting involved in secular, public, life isn't the same as claiming that 'God is a Democrat/Republican/whatever.' More topics.

Not being 'Too Heavenly-Minded to be Any Earthly Good'

The Catholic Church has a reputation for having an awful lot of rules. As I've said before, there's something to that.

For example, we've got rules about citizenship. Like what the duties of citizens are. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2238-2243)

Interestingly, that last paragraph says that armed resistance oppression by political authorities is "not legitimate, unless...." [emphasis mine] The conditions under which we're allowed to storm the castle, so to speak, are about the same as the rules for a just war. I don't think Capitol Hill is even close to requiring that sort of reality check: and that's another topic, too.

More about what citizens should do:
"It is the duty of citizens to work with civil authority for building up society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom."

Oh, Great: Another Election

I am not exactly looking forward to the election in 2012.

On the one hand, it's an opportunity for us to swap out some of the lot we've got in Congress. There's a chance that folks who haven't lived too long in Washington, D.C., will act more responsibly than the politicos we've got now.

On the other hand, the candidates come from the same population that's run up an average $10,700 in credit-card debt.3

Even so: I plan to hold my nose, study the candidates, and decide which is either the best choice - or the least-bad. Like I said, it's an opportunity for us to get some new fannies sitting in Congress. Maybe the next lot won't make quite as big a mess.

America, the Government, and Getting a Grip

So far, this hasn't been a particularly cheery post. I think it's time for some good news.

The Vatican Bank's chief says that the United States isn't necessarily "a nation in decline or struck to the core" - and he's got pretty good reasons for thinking so:
"...'The United States remains the most technologically advanced country in the world, with the highest GDP, surpassing one and a half times that of Europe, four times that of China, and ten times that of Italy,' wrote Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, President of the Vatican Bank, in the Vatican's newspaper L'Osservatore Romano....

"...'The fact that it has been declassified does not flatten it to the ground, but probably will cause it to be more humble and open to collaborating with Europe,” said Gotti Tedeschi...."
I think Tedeschi's comments, and the CNA article, come close to saying something that I think is true: America isn't the federal government. France isn't the Fifth Republic. No country is just the political leadership.

We need government. (March 12, 2011) But - no matter what Congress, or a king, or whoever's got the duty of managing government affairs may believe - commoners, 'the Masses,' or folks who like NASCAR and the Super Bowl, are important.

If nothing else, we're the ones who earn money by building cars, designing software, growing crops, and scrubbing the floors. Without someone actually getting something done, Congress would only have themselves to tax.

Related posts:
News and views:

"Obama calls US AAA nation despite AA+ Rating"
Associated Press, via Yahoo! News (August 8, 2011)

"President Barack Obama on Monday essentially dismissed the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, trying to reassure investors and the public that the nation's leaders need only show more 'common sense and compromise' to tame a staggering accumulation of debt....

"...'Markets will rise and fall,' he said. 'But this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a triple-A country.'..."
"Rating agencies disagree with S&P's downgrade"
Wyatt Andrews, CBS News video (August 9, 2011)

"Standard and Poor's two main rivals, Fitch and Moody's, disagree with the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating; other critics say S&P was wrong on the basic facts. Wyatt Andrews reports...." [introductory text]
"...The average American household with at least one credit card has nearly $10,700 in credit-card debt, according to, and the average interest rate runs in the mid- to high teens at any given time...."
(Lesson 9, Top Things to Know, CNN Money)

1 comment:

Brigid said...

Besides being long, there's an oddity with a hyphen in here: "Maybe all these years of spending more money than they take from us, running the Social Security system like a Ponzi scheme - which loyalists say it isn't, making "congressional ethics" sound like an oxymoron, and then raising the debt limit when they finally hit the wall, really is what a bunch of presumably-responsible, comparatively-sober grownups should have been doing." Might I recommend putting "which loyalists say it isn't" in parentheses instead?

To oppression, maybe? "that armed resistance oppression by political authorities"

Why the comma? "too long in Washington, D.C., will act"

Interesting space there after the start of the footnote.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. As one of the people who scrubs floors (among other things) for a living, hurrah!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.