Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Optimist Next to the Manure Pile

A reader sends a link to a site worth visiting frequently: The Skeptical Optimist.

This blogger has a Debt Clock, which in itself is an interesting thing. Our debt increases at an alarming rate, much faster than your heart beats.

But beneath this clock is….ta da…a GDP clock, and it appears to be ticking just as fast.

Below both clocks you will see a number. This is the Debt-to-GDP ratio. While the other two tick away, this number doesn’t seem to change.

Mr. Optimist says:

All three numbers on the clock are updated two times per second: Debt, GDP, and Debt-to-GDP Ratio.

Unsurprisingly, the first number on the clock, Debt, is hard to keep up with, because it’s increasing so fast—just like it does on all the other debt clocks out there.

The second number on the clock, GDP, indicates the size of our economy. It’s just like the debt number in one very important respect: it’s hard to keep up with, because it’s increasing so fast. I bet you’ve never seen this before on anybody else’s debt clock.

The third number, Debt-to-GDP Ratio, is the most important number on the clock. It indicates our nation’s debt burden, and is very different from the other two numbers. Why? Because waiting for this number to tick up or down is worse than watching grass grow. Nevertheless, I do recalculate it two times per second, just like the other two numbers.

Manure Pile + OptimistHere’s his definition of an optimist: one who believes that humans, on net balance, are builders rather than destroyers.

And go here for his International Debt Thermometer.

Definitely, a keeper. The Skeptical Optimist will be on our blogroll at the next update.

Meanwhile, spread the manure ummm...spread the word.

Hat tip: Nicholas Bretagna II, who in turn, hat tips Cass.


Scott said...

There are a number of reasons to be
a lot less sanguine about our debt
burdent than what this clock may

Number one is unfunded obligations
do not show up as debt in official
figures but they exist as surely as
my desire to claim social security
and medicare benefits.

Second and related, even if the
demographic bulge of the baby boom
retirement was manageable in terms
of pension costs, healthcare costs
are rising far faster than either
inflation or inflation plus growth.
Somethings going to have to give
here and I'm afraid its going to be
government paid health benefits for
the elderly.

Third, the US savings rate was
negative last year. In order to
finance our tremendous fiscal and
trade deficits we have to borrow.
At some point two will have to take
place to pay that money back. We
will have to cut consumption and
export more and or we will face
higher interest rates and thus a
greater proportion of GDP will go
to debt service than we have had to
pay in the recent past. Neither
option is exactly a recipe for GDP
growth. In fact it can lead to the
'stagflation' Britain, and to a
lesser extent the US experienced in
the 1970's.

Finally, and most controversial, is
the changing nature of the US
population. Economic growth is not
just a matter of labor and capital
as the Marxists would have it. The
most important factor is human
genius. One Tom Edison,eg, is more
important to economic growth than a
million low wage immigrants.

The US became the largest economic
power in the world when the culture
of this country was dominated by,as
Rudyard Kiping presciently noted in
the 1890's, the "Anglo-German-Jew."

Out of this eclectic mix came the
intellectual and entrepreneurial
horsepower that created modern

This population has begun to decline, relative to the total US
population. Making up most of the
growth in US populaton has been
people with no demonstrated ability
to match the accomplishments of the
earlier US populations. There is a
philosophical preference to believe
that this is not important but so
far no one has been able to lay on
the table the evidence that black
and mestizo populations produce any
thing like the number of high IQs
upon which our society depends as
the prior racial mix produced.

While we have increasad the high IQ
Asian component of our population
the great majority of our growth
has come from the bottom of the
socio economic barrel of Latin
America and indigenous growth among
black and other low achieving third
world people.

Pending some social or genetic
technology that has so far eluded
us to eliminate this IQ problem the
future may not be as bright as one
would expect if one chooses to
simply extrapolate past performance
into the future.

Brian Macker said...

Here’s his definition of an optimist: one who believes that humans, on net balance, are builders rather than destroyers.

That's a pessimists definition of a optimist.

Charles Martel said...


Superb post and I for one want to thank you. These are issues that will not attract the sort of attention (if any at all) necessary for a rational immigration policy.

X said...

Speaking of the debt thermometer, I reckon his assessment of the UK rather underestimates our truw national debt and over-estimates our economy quite a bit. Much of our public spending has been rather cleverly pushed off the books by the government's use of "private finance initiatives" that are neither private, nor showing of much initiative. I'd say our national debt is somewhat higher, and growing quite rapidly, while our GDP is shrinking very fast.

Of course that's not his fault. The government has been hiding this quite effectively for several years, but it's starting to show up. Brown as much as confessed that most PFI is purely to cook the books in a recent session of parliament.

Dymphna said...

...that strange flower, the sun,
is just what you say.
have it your way.

the world is ugly,
and the people are sad...
(Wallace Stevens)