Thursday, February 13, 2014

SPEED LIMIT: 55, 65, 70, 80, WHATEVER, DUDE.

Why do they even call it a "limit" or "ceiling", anyway? In aircraft terms, a "ceiling" is an altidude beyond which the plane cannot climb; in political terms, a "ceiling" is just any one of a series of ever higher points on a curve that went asymptotic long ago.

In the world of personal finance, credit card limits work because your credit card magically stops being able to buy stuff when you reach them. Congress, on the other hand, just tells the cashier "Run it again, it'll work," and it does!

And let's be honest with ourselves here, we're now doing this crazy Mall of America shopping spree entirely with imaginary money that nobody with half a brain thinks we will ever be able to pay back and probably no longer even intend to. We're just going to keep putting stuff on this card until it stops working because none of the stores will take it anymore, the cops show up, or the mall burns down.

It's cool, I know my limit.


Murphy's Law said...

Honestly, I did not think that even dogs would drink PBR.

Matt said...

Since the world cops work for the U.S. Government, they won't show up. Since all the rest of the world is running on monopoly money as well, the credit card will keep working. So, the mall is going to have to burn down.

Armed Texan said...

They can stop whenever they want. Look, they even shut down today to prove it.

Anonymous said...

I guess they all think somebody else is the designated driver.


staghounds said...

Unless some local cops in, say, China decide to bust the kiting operation.

Scott J said...

I need some more ballistic wampum.

Mike said...

I believe that the word you want here is "exponential", a value which is constantly accelerating. "Asymptotic" is a description of something which gets ever-closer to, but never exceeds, a limit.

There ain't no limit to this budget thingy. No limit, evah!


Ken said...

Heh. Weepin' Johnny. I saw what you did there.

billf said...

Mike:Turn your graph sideways,so that the line which represents the asymtote (sp?)is not the limit,but the line over which we cross into default.Now the ever increasing debt does not cross the line,but gets closer and closer to 'going over',whle it's always going higher(ie,greater in debt).

staghounds said...

In 1966, one Turkish lira bought a U. S. dime.

In 2001, just 35 years later, it took 165,000 lira to buy a dime.

Turkey never defaulted.

We won't, either.

RKN said...

1 12 oz can frozen limeade.
12 oz tequila.
16 oz PBR.

Mix thoroughly in a pitcher, enjoy over ice. Two things will happen:

1. You may never again drink a conventional Margarita.
2. After ~glass #3: "Debt ceiling? What debt ceiling."

Joe in PNG said...

It's kind of sad that Newt has been the best Republican Speaker of the House in my lifetime.

Seriously, where does the Republican Party keep find these weak kneed, spaghetti spine, cringing craven cowards to put into national leadership positions?

Kristophr said...

There will be no default.

The Treasury and the Federal Reserve are in full hyperinflation mode.

They will keep printing ( electronically or otherwise ) dollars until the national debt can be paid off with the cost of a cup of coffee.

Don't put your savings in US$ or in things dependent on US$, like the US stock market.

And yes, I'm a precious metal nutter.

Kristophr said...

Mike: It really is asymptotic.

As the Treasury issues more IOUs, and has the Fed pay them off by electronically creating fiat currency out of thin air, they will just add more zeros to the debt.

Admittedly, it will all come to an end when the dollar is so valueless that the Treasury cannot get anyone to accept them as payment, no matter how many zeros they put on the notes.

Anonymous said...

PBR? Shouldn't that dog be wearing a fedora and explaining how obscure these concepts are and how we probably wouldn't understand them?


Anonymous said...

"Since the world cops work for the U.S. Government, they won't show up. Since all the rest of the world is running on monopoly money as well, the credit card will keep working. So, the mall is going to have to burn down."

Except the "rest of the world's monopoly money" is now bing used to buy REAL Iranian oil ..... and trade amongst themselves. The rule of the PetroDollar is no longer uncontested.... it's days are nubered and that number is small ..... the USD will not be far behind it.

Kristophr said...


A lot of western governments, as well as the Japanese, were suckered into basing their currency on $US, under the auspice of the Bretton Woods Agreement, where the US promised to always redeem dollars for gold.

Which fell apart when DeGaul figured out that the Treasury did not have enough gold in Fort Knox to cover the Federal Reserve's counterfeiting operation, demanded France's $US be redeemed in gold, and thus forced Nixon to repudiate Bretton Woods.

So all the First World governments are backing their own currencies with these fiat $US.

Danger, danger, Will Robinson!

Unknown said...

I have a modest proposal.

Every time there's a demand to increase the debt limit, let's link it to a MINIMUM limit for semi-auto magazine size.

"Yes, we'll raise the debt limit to 18.7 trillion. In return, no one may be prosecuted in the United States for possession of a handgun magazine of capacity 15 (30 for rifles). Next time you want to raise the debt limit, we'll raise it to 20 (and 40), and so on."

My apologies to those who do not live in Massachusetts, or California, or DC; such limits may seem incomprehensible to you. Trust me, this would cause a screaming on Capitol Hill like you've never heard.

SJ said...

@Mike, @Kristopher

being a bit of a math geek, I will note that "asymptotic" doesn't necessarily mean "getting smaller", or "flattening out".

Most people are introducted to asymptotes with decreasing functions like y=1/x, where the function asymptotically approaches zero.

It's a memorable asymptote.

Later, students may learn of other asymptotes. For example, y=(x^2-1)/x, which asymptotically approaches the line y=x, from below.

The big question is, what asymptote is the FedGov Budget approaching?

I'm not sure, but it's not zero. And it's not a flat-line.

(For visuals, plug the equations I gave into Wolfram Alpha. It's kind of cool.)