That pill-popping, boy-crazy nincompoop Ayn Rand has got a lot to answer for. Indeed, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that we owe at least part of the recent economic crisis to her and her philosophy of Objectivism, since former Fed chief Alan Greenspan was a lifelong disciple of both. The two first met in the ’50s. Back then, a gang of acolytes, calling themselves the Collective, used to gather at Rand’s apartment on East 36th Street every Saturday night so they could tell each other how smart they all were. Along came Greenspan one evening, shy and somber.
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we’re broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year’s retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.
Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?
Most Americans know about that budget. What they don’t know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the “official” budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.
The budget plan that Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has put forward for the House Republicans is truly stunning. It takes the war on America’s middle class not to the next level but about three levels down the road.
There’s something we should start with, though, when we think about this budget. And that’s where we are now. Mark Sumner points us to this graph:
That’s the deficit, and that big orange stripe, the one getting wider by the year, is how much of the deficit the Bush tax cuts are creating.
Apple Inc. has added a do-not-track privacy tool to a test version of its latest Web browser for keeping customers’ online activities from being monitored by marketers.
The tool is included within the latest test release of Lion, a version of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system that is currently available only to developers. The final version of the operating system is scheduled to be released to the public this summer. Mentions of the do-not-track feature in Apple’s Safari browser began to appear recently in online discussion forums and on Twitter.
The move by the Cupertino, Calif., company leaves Google Inc. as the only major browser provider that hasn’t yet committed to supporting a do-no-track capability in its browser, called Chrome. Microsoft Corp. and Mozilla Corp. both offer do-not-track features in their latest browsers.
The Other Writers: “We did all of that writing for free, and now that you made a bunch of money, we’re entitled to some of it!”