On Thursday evening, against my better judgment, I returned to Bob Evans in Bear, where I'd received poor service (well, no service at all, actually) just two days prior. Well, surprise! Service was prompt and efficient! If I didn't know better, I'd say my complaint worked but on reflection, I think it was just a different crew that evening. I had a "Farm Favorite" chicken sandwich.
Back in March, I noticed that I had unclaimed funds held by the State of New York. I sent in the claim form and required documents. Today, only five months later, I got a check for $144 with a little note from the state comptroller stating where the money was from. Well, that takes care of a loose end from my NYC-to-NJ move 16 years ago.
S&P Strips U.S. of Top Credit Rating
"A cornerstone of the global financial system was shaken Friday when officials at ratings firm Standard & Poor's said U.S. Treasury debt no longer deserved to be considered among the safest investments in the world."
I'm sad to say that I didn't find it a surprise. I think Standard and Poor's is actually many years late. Back in 2006/2007, I was already rather concerned about the Federal fiscal gap, which at the time was estimated to be over $80 trillion. That is not just the national debt but also all unfunded "off-budget" liabilities. (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security among those) I wrote about it but not many were concerned and fewer even joined the discussion. So I shelved it and waited.
Even now, I don't see too many people taking the situation seriously. The US Treasury itself is brushing it off as a calculation error on S&P's part. That's hardly relevant. When you look at the fiscal gap, not the mere fraction of it that is the national debt, the benefit cuts and astronomical tax increases required to cover that are politically unpalatable, no matter how you sugar-coat it, and will never happen. The recent debt-ceiling bickering was over $900 billion in cuts spread out over 10 years, just 1% of the grand total, and those cuts won't even lower the debt.
Incidentally, I revisited the fiscal gap issue today and Kotlikoff said that he calculated it at $202 trillion. That article is a year old, so who knows what it is now? It's mind-boggling.