How much is $700 Billion?

24 09 2008

A few random notes on the week …

The big news in the US is, of course, not That Topic I Cannot Speak Of (see sidebar! 🙂 ) but the proposed $700 billion bailout.  To put it in perspective, if he is granted the entire amount at once, the Secretary of the Treasury could be his very own G7 nation.  $700 billion is more than the expenditures of the People’s Republic of China in 2007.  Here is this chart courtesy of the CIA World Fact Book of 2008:

1 United States $2,731,000,000,000
2 Japan $1,575,000,000,000
3 Germany $1,477,000,000,000
4 France $1,372,000,000,000
5 United Kingdom $1,237,000,000,000
6 Italy $1,029,000,000,000
7 China $634,600,000,000
8 Canada $551,200,000,000
9 Spain $544,900,000,000
10 Netherlands $352,300,000,000

John Cole, over at Balloon Juice, does a good job in summarizing what many Americans are probably feeling right now … snippets are below the fold, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

All snarking about this current crisis aside (which we are doing a lot of, especially in the comments and with the Comrade titles and the potshots at the nationalization of the free market), I really have no clue what is going on with the current mess. I vacillate between there being a very serious problem that needs a bailout and this being nothing more than a last minute attempt at looting on an almost hourly basis, although there may be enough evidence out there that a little bit of both is going on. Likewise, I am wholly convinced that no matter which of those scenarios is most accurate, we are in deep trouble financially at a very basic level. We are not a healthy nation.

So, yeah. I am skeptical. I am disgusted. I am confused. I am concerned. And I don’t know what to believe or what to trust. And that is a dangerous thing, because I am not alone- lots of us are feeling the same thing, and are lashing out at Washington this week. The reflexive desire to oppose the bailout, to extract pain, and to be petty and childish is not isolated to one anonymous member of congress. If there really is a problem, if there really is a need to act immediately, being paralyzed by cynicism could be every bit as disastrous as being paralyzed by fear or incompetence. It would be a terrible tragedy if the one time the citizenry and the Congress stood up to the Bush thugs was the time we should have trusted them.

On a lighter note, the United Nations has descended upon New York City this week.  I could hear the protests yesterday from the office, which is not too far from the UN.  Here is how New Yorkers (myself included) have typically responded … The New York Times blog, “The Caucus”

New York is considered a Democratic city, but it is also an impatient one, and residents’ views of visiting politicians often have less to do with their positions on domestic and world affairs than with how much the trip inconveniences them.

Truer words were never spoken!

Finally, the biggest non-news item is … Clay Aiken is gay.  You know what folks, I’ll be sooo happy when things like this stop making the front covers of People magazine.  I mean, enough already.



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