Letters to the Editor

Russia parallel?

July 26, 2011


To the editor:

Some say it can’t happen here, but I’m beginning to wonder. I was in Russia in August 1998 when their central bank defaulted on its debt. It was not pretty, and I recall long lines of Russians trying to get into the banks to withdraw their savings. They wanted to exchange their quickly depreciating rubles before they became worthless.

Like today, politics were involved, but mostly it was plain thievery (there is a difference!). Those with privileged access were able to preserve their wealth, while the majority lost most of their savings. Don’t want to spark a run on the banks, but if your faith in our political leadership is wavering, you might want to shift your assets.


Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

One of my aunts knows Russian rather well, and has been an exchange teacher in English for a high school in Russia a few times. I don't remember the name of the city, which has a population of about 30,000, but it's about 400 miles south of Moscow. It's a three day train ride to get there from Moscow, while a similar trip here would be considered to be only a one day trip by car, although a rather long one.

About the only thing that is produced there is farm tractors. She was the only foreigner that the vast majority of the students had ever seen, and in fact, she was the only foreigner in that city at all. What she did, being a native English speaker, was instruct the more successful students in English during their senior year in high school.

She told me many things about her experiences there, and I can't possibly go into all of them here. But, one of the things she did do was show me a photograph of the money she left behind for her friends there just before she left on her most recent trip in the 1990s, since she would certainly not have any use for Russian money here in the USA.

It was a huge pile of many bundles of bills, and they were stacked really high on a chair. Her friends simply could not believe that she was simply giving them that huge pile of money for the simple reason of having no use for it.

And, when my aunt told me about it, she told me that huge pile of money was worth practically nothing at all, regardless of the impressively high denominations of the bills.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 2 months ago

I suppose I should point out that she has gone back to Russia since then, but the last time I saw her that trip in the 1990s had been her most recent trip.

And, for a bit of trivia, on the other side of my family, my German ancestors lived in Russia from about the 1820s until the years between 1880 and 1917. After 1917, none of my distant relatives there got out of Russia.

cato_the_elder 4 years, 2 months ago

The United States is not going to "default" on anything. There's plenty of federal tax revenue each month to pay debt obligations, and if social security recipients don't get their checks on time it will only be if Obama decides to withhold them for political reasons.

Obama and the Democrats want a deal putting them through the 2012 elections, and are doing their best to prevaricate and dissemble with their usual class warfare rhetoric in order to attempt to get what they want solely for political reasons.

House Republicans want fiscal responsibility, which is precisely the reason many of them were elected last November.

A deal will be struck. The United States does not yet have a financial stability crisis as do Greece, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. We have a political crisis only, with most Democrats being concerned solely with the 2012 presidential election and most House Republicans being concerned solely with fiscal responsibility. We will, however, encounter serious financial stability problems in five years if real spending cuts are not undertaken and implemented now.

tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

i thought no politician could get elected for raising taxes. I would think the Republicans would love for Obama to insist on raising taxes and let him take all the credit, then defeat him at the next election. They could play the victim and say they had to give in to him to save the economy. Of course, if taxes are raised, and it doesn't destroy the economy and jobs, which is what would probably happen, the voters might start rethinking the "no taxes" mantra.

CountyResident 4 years, 2 months ago

While there are federal tax revenues each month, they are not adequate to pay all of our obligations. This includes social security, interest on debt, defense spending, etc. That is why we need to increase our debt limit. If there were infact enough tax revenues coming in we would not have to borrow. Simple as that.

CountyResident 4 years, 2 months ago

While there are federal tax revenues each month, they are not adequate to pay all of our obligations. This includes social security, interest on debt, defense spending, etc. That is why we need to increase our debt limit. If there were infact enough tax revenues coming in we would not have to borrow. Simple as that.

KayCee 4 years, 2 months ago

"I doubt that, but it makes a good story." Well kid, that's precisely why, but you must not be listening to the right people.

KayCee 4 years, 2 months ago

"Boehner and McConnell have one simple number 1 priority, that of making President Obama a 1-term president." Correct, because that 'kid' never had the experience or ability to handle the job in the first place.

"I think Beohner is willing to .... destroy anything that gets in his path," Think again, he is trying to protect what we have without losing too much following what the Dems have given us.

KayCee 4 years, 2 months ago

Punished? The only power we have is the ballot, and the Repubs had better stand fast or face being replaced. The only 'stand' Obama makes is to ridicule the conservatives, and propose ideas that are taking this country down. As for Palin, I'd take her any day over what we have now. And do you have to use that DEROGATORY word? It's the Tea Party, get it right.

KayCee 4 years, 2 months ago

"Increasing revenue will bring our country down?" We have enough 'revenue', Decrease the spending that's puting the country in debt beyond our income.

" When they first appeared, that's what they called themselves." NO, that's what their critics used to degrade them. Document your claim.

cato_the_elder 4 years, 2 months ago

"To that end, I think Beohner (sic) is willing to play chicken with the United States economy, destroying anything that gets in his path, similar to the Teabaggers tactics. Unfortunately for him, he's swimming against the tide. Rasmussen reports 56% favor a candidate who has a balanced approach to the economy."

Is the LA Times a liberal enough source for you?


cato_the_elder 4 years, 2 months ago

My point, which you obviously failed to grasp, was that it's not Boehner who's risking political trouble, but Obama. You need to dig a little deeper next time.

cato_the_elder 4 years, 2 months ago

I explained it earlier. Perhaps you need a course in remedial reading. It's not Boehner who's risking political trouble, it's Obama. You failed to respond further, other than to offer up a trite platitude.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 2 months ago

Making the rounds on the internet. Not sure where it's from but it's definitely going viral.

Dear House Republicans,

You have shown me the way. As August approaches, I have firm deadlines to pay my bills. But since I'll have to borrow some money to pay them all, I have decided, following your example, not to allow myself to pay any of them unless I can cut my spending drastically. For example, food and medical care are luxuries I just can't afford anymore. Rent is also too high; I'm going to start paying less for it. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, and, as I plan to point out to my landlord when he complains that the check is lower than what we agreed on, we all have to make sacrifices in these tough times. I'll still keep cable TV, of course, because that money goes to a corporation.

I won't, however, get a job; it's clear that I have a spending problem, not an income problem. I don't want to enable further out-of-control expenditures by actually having any money. Also, charging someone for my labor will only raise operating costs for one of America's job creators, which is really unthinkable in the current economic environment.

If I can't come to an agreement with myself, I might have to default on my debts. A more serious disaster would not be taking this opportunity to get my spending under control. Furthermore, defaulting on my debts won't actually be bad; for example, not paying the student loan won't matter, because there shouldn't be a Department of Education anyway. Really, all this talk of default is just scare-mongering by those who pretend to offer me an ugly choice between defaulting and paying my bills. Finally, if I defaulted, it would be a grave disaster, and so don't worry: no one is talking about defaulting on my debts. But if it happens, it will be the fault of my creditors, who are pressing for business as usual. Well, those blank-check days are over.

Thank you for providing me with an example of fiscal responsibility.

Yours sincerely,

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