31 May 2010

Memorial Day 2010

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

An excellent history of Memorial Day can be found here, and images from Arlington are here.

We spent our morning remembering friends and family at the local Veterans Memorial in Boca Raton.  I hope that wherever you are, you remembered those who have given all for their country.  Below are some images from today, and an expert from the self-published 'History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion' by 'Buck Private' McCollum (a cousin of my father and survivor of the Lost Battalion in WWI).

Up There
'From two short words, "Up There" we glean,
All that war can really mean,
Sounds perhaps not much to you,
Entire volume, what we've been thru.
Telling many brave and daring tale,
Of Chateau-Thierry and the Vesle,
Of Argonne Woods, that death-strewn hell,
Where hordes of our brave comrades fell.
Who gave their all, as men have done
Ever since wars first begun,
Their blood enriching vale or hill,
Patriot's promise, or God's will.
They fell for a cause just and true,
Undying tribute is their due,
"God rest their souls," our humble prayer,
For all who gave their all - "Up There."'

30 May 2010

Debt:GDP and the Future

(BMG: back from conferences and a short research trip, and returning to the blog for awhile; posting will be irregular through the end of June and will then pick up again).

According to the US National Debt Clock, the Debt to GDP ratio (converted to a percent of GDP) now exceeds 90%.  This is the largest Debt:GDP we have been at since the close of WWII and the largest ever peacetime ratio in our history.  The debt exceeded $13-trillion last week, and there is no sign that the rate of increase will slow anytime soon.  These values were projected by the CBO upon submission of the President's 2011 budget back in March, and are now exceeded even before the budget takes effect.  The dramatic increase in debt is accompanied by an aging population, and a subsequent decrease in government income regardless of any raises in tax rates.  To avoid following the path that southern and eastern Europe is now on, and which northern and western Europe may soon follow, a dramatic decrease in spending and services is necessary over the next five to ten years.

Those kind of tough decisions, however, are beyond this Congress and President (and beyond any for the previous thirty years).  'The End Game Draws Nigh,' an examination by Dr. Woody Brock of divergent paths to economic growth and slowing, places particular emphasis on macroeconomic trends in successful versus failed economic policies.  Most particularly, a high Debt:GDP value is a major indicator that a long-term economic slow-down is occurring or is imminent.  We can stick our head in the sand, but that will just leave our collective butt exposed.  We must demand tough decisions from our leaders, or we must find leaders who can make those decisions.  Without them, we're all going to be suffering for many more years.
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