A few days ago I boasted of solving our massive budget crisis in just ten minutes, which is easy to do when you’re not fighting off an army of special-interest groups intent on preserving every pet expenditure and never raising taxes, unless they are raised on groups they oppose.
I did it, as explained in the previous post, via the NY Times’ interactive budget planner, whereby you go through and make the cuts you want–and you keep cutting until both the short-term and longer-term problems are solved.
Sorry it’s taken me a few days to explain exactly how I did it. My solution is here. I’d love to see yours when it’s done.
Our nation’s looming fiscal nightmare, as foreseen by columnist David Brooks:
Elections come and go, but the United States is still careening toward bankruptcy. By 2020, the U.S. will be spending $1 trillion a year just to pay the interest on the national debt. Sometime between now and then the catastrophe will come. . . It will come with amazing swiftness. The bond markets are with you until the second they are against you. When the psychology shifts and the fiscal crisis happens, the shock will be grievous: national humiliation, diminished power in the world, drastic cuts and spreading pain.
That’s why it was depressing, if unsurprising, to see the reaction from a lot of political leaders to last week’s trial balloon from Obama’s Deficit Commission. The Def Com released a long list of budget cuts and tax increases that could not possibly please everyone. It’s the strongest, most bitter medicine in the cabinet, but only the naive could think there is some easy, no-pain way out of this problem. To dig out of a hole like this one, everybody’s got to lose something they want.
But what do we do? Reduce our nuclear arsenal? Raise fees on national parks? Dump a bunch of federal workers? Raise the retirement age again?
Since the issue is going to dominate politics in the next few years (let’s hope), we should get familiar with the options. So jump right in: Thanks to this ingenious interactive feature in the NY Times, anyone can take a shot at balancing the budget and rescuing our country from a disaster that could make the past two years seem like a walk in the park. Give it a try here. Every time you cut something, you’ll see the ocean of red ink shrink. Just check the boxes and watch the billions melt away!
Confession: I solved the whole problem in ten minutes. It’s easy when nobody is trying to stop you. I’ll share some of my fixes in the next few days.
Do you think this guy made the list?
Hoping to reduce the productivity of literate folks across the land, the geniuses at the Atlantic magazine have just re-issued their 2006 list of The Most Influential Americans of All Time. I’ll post the link in a moment, but first, play the guessing game:
*Who do you think is their Number One?
*Try naming as many of their Top 20 as you can. (Hint: Ten are former, not current, Presidents.)
*Name 3 inventors you’re sure are on the list.
*Name 3 people from the entertainment world who’ve just got to be there.
*Only 3 living Americans are on the list. Name just one. (Does that mess up your entertainers list?)
*How far down the list do have to go you go before you come to the first woman? Guess the number.
*Only one writer made the Top 20! Can you believe it? Name him/her.
*Which of these two Americans made the list? Hugh Hefner or Brigham Young?
*Which two of these Presidents made the list? Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy?
When you’re finished, check your answers here. You can also read their lengthy preamble in which they justify their choices. For the lazy, I might post the answers, but it will be a few days, so go for it!
ONE YEAR AGO ON MUSE MACHINE:
Fort Hood Shooter: Can We at Least Walk to Judgment?
Early thoughts about the Fort Hood gunman. . . of course, we know a lot more about him now.
TWO YEARS AGO ON MUSE MACHINE:
Veteran’s Day: How We Can Help
Of course veterans deserve our gratitude. If you want to turn gratitude into action, here are more than a dozen ways to help.
With the Cowboys doing all they can to eradicate their proud heritage and reduce themselves to just another Buffalo/Seattle/Cleveland/who cares? franchise, post-game depression is reaching epidemic levels in the home of the former dynasty. I’ve wondered before just how the Boyz have managed to remain a national favorite despite more than a decade of largely mediocre play.
But this 1-7 start surely must spell the end of the America’s Team mystique. Don’t look for the likes of Tony Romo or Demarcus Ware to show up on the canvases of famous painters, a la the LeRoy Neiman image of Roger Staubach above.
Of course, I said the same thing almost two years ago.
Hey, maybe we’re not going to hell in a handbasket, whatever that is. At least that’s the view of The Economist, that respected British pub, surveying the former colony on the eve of the midterms. Key quote:
[America] is still the most innovative economy on earth, the place where the world’s greatest universities meet the world’s deepest pockets. Its demography is favourable, with a high birth rate and limitless space into which to expand. It has a flexible and hard-working labour force. Its ultra-low bond yields are a sign that the world’s investors still think it a good long-term bet. The most enterprising individuals on earth still clamour to come to America. And it still has a talented president who can surely do better than he has thus far.
Read the whole piece here if you like.
That good news, which captures many of my own sentiments, comes via erotic photographer/singer/songwriter/old friend and bon vivant Dennis Chamberlain, now living the enviable retiree’s life in Corrales, New Mexico.
If you are in New Mexico, Arizona, or nearby states, even if you have arrived illegally, this is the guy to do your head shots, glamour shots, passport photos, the whole bit. He’ll also have a CD out soon, we hope, with some beautiful music straight from the heart of a talented guy who doesn’t have to work anymore. . . damn him. Check out some of his work here.
From a casting call I received through an actor’s service I joined, verbatim:
I’m making 3 feature-length films starting about mid-November. They are non-union, no pay but I can give you DVDs and credits in them. The genres are drama,horror and dark comedy. I will work with whatever your schedual is and you can tell me 3 first names you like for your characters. If possible if I could film your characters scenes at your place that would be wonderful, if you want to have a friend there as well since you dont know me that would be fine. Actually,if you have any friends that would be interested in acting with you in the scenes let me know as well, or put them in contact with me. Or we could film at their place.This is because I need different locations for different characters. If we cannot film at your place let me know. I don’t have a script to give you, I write as I go along, its more organic that way, I will feed you lines. I’ve made over 40 films and this works. We film everything in order so you see the progression of the stories. 99% of my actors come back to work with me again and again, that says a lot.
These are rated R, let me know if you are comfortable with tasteful, partial nudity, if not I still want to cast you.
Wait. Does he mean that he wants to cast you even if you’re not comfortable with tasteful partial nudity? I mean, does he rip off your clothes?
If I was writing a murder mystery, I’d use this as the setup.