Truth in Media Activism: Letters to Editors

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Mar. 10, 1999

To: The Wall Street Journal

Debt Is Good!   Really? For Whom?

Re. "Debt Delusion", a WSJ editorial, Mar. 8, 1999

From Phoenix, Arizona


Ned Crabb, Letters Editor


New York, NY

Subject: A letter to the editor re. the editorial, "Debt Delusion," Mar. 8, 1999

Dear Ned,

Whoever wrote your March 8 editorial must have assumed that the average Journal reader has an IQ of about 70, and no more than a Grade 8 education level. For, rarely has so much dung beetle food been dispensed in so few words upon so many readers.

Your "Debt Delusion" commentary could have been titled "Debt Is Good: The More You Owe, the More You Own."

Only a greedy banker dealing with a gullible customer, or a corrupt editor pawning off editorials as bankers' commercials, could have suggested such an idiocy with a straight face. Had any "normal" American said that, he would have been run out of town, any town, like a mad dog. Or taken to the town's square for public display and ridicule before being used as a Statue of Moron. Except it seems on Wall Street, where talking crazy is normal, and doing normal is crazy. As long as either crazy or normal helps fill the bankers' coffers.

"Of course, the U.S. (government) must pay interest (to the Wall Street bankers), which comes out of the annual budget," the Journal eventually concedes way down in its editorial, after first glorifying the virtue of national debt. "But so what?"

But so what? So what that about $200 billion per year goes straight from the U.S. taxpayers' pockets into the bankers' accounts - just for servicing our $3.7 trillion debt? That's more money that ALL tax revenues Uncle Sam collected in 1998 from all of Corporate America ($189 billion). And you have the audacity to say, "so what?!"

But your arrogance is only exceeded by your treachery. Like that of a lawyer who said in his summation, "and those, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are the conclusions upon which I based my facts." The Journal's "fun with figures" amounts to the same thing. "The latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculations show debt as a share of the U.S. economy rapidly declining toward its post World War II low of 23.9% in 1974," your editorial claims.

Maybe. But in what year, or decade, if at all? Your piece never explains that the CBO report PROJECTED that could happen circa year 2005. But even then, only in the best of circumstances:

  • If the nominal U.S. GDP grows in the 3.8% to 4.6% range between now and then (ever heard of anyone from Washington ever predicting a recession?)
  • If the inflation stays low (in the 1.7% to 2.1% range)
  • If the unemployment does not rise above 5.7%
  • If the interest rates also stay low (i.e., the 3-month T-Bills at 4.5%)
  • If the next U.S. president isn't a liar [Just kidding. On the other hand.. J]

In other words, if a typical bureaucratic set of fairy-tale assumptions came to pass.

Nor did you tell the Journal's readers that our ACTUAL 1998 national debt was $3.7 trillion, or 44% of the GDP, which makes the U.S. the biggest debtor nation in the world. Yet both of these figures were also a part of the same March 3, 1999 CBO report which you cited.

Nor did you tell them that even that rosy 24% of GDP-figure would still mean a national debt of about $2.6 trillion in the year 2005 - several orders of magnitude greater than our 1974 national debt, which you also cited!

And then you had the gall to conclude that, "the national debt, in short, is a political diversion... And the next time a politician claims to be doing you a favor of paying down the debt, tell him you want your money back."

Actually, the Journal subscribers could use your advice, and ask for refunds of their subscriptions. After all, nowhere in your promotional materials did the Journal state that its name really stood for the bankers' "Wall Street Urinal." Or that your editorials represent, "in short, a diversion from the truth," if I may paraphrase you. At least when it comes to the "bread and butter" issues for a financial publisher. Like kissing up to bankers.

Best regards,

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Bob Djurdjevic

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Also check out... "Debt Is Good!  Really?,"  "Kosovo: Another Vietnam?", "Banality of Bombings", "Greek Archbishop: Stop This NATO Attack,"  "You Were Wrong About Gen. Perisic", "New York Times' Kosovo News Manipulation",  "Plus, Another Kosovo News Cover-up""Embarrassed About Such 'Serbs',"  "Put the UN Justice on Trial""Another Wall Street Bailout, Another Main Street Sellout", "Does WSJ Dance to Wall St. Bankers' Tunes?""Clinton Fiddles While Milosevic Burns""Let the Bombing Begin?  Not!" , "What's Good for the Goose..."  and "Journal's Rotten Apples" (Wall Street Journal); and "Stock buybacks: Wall St.'s Duping of Main St.", Business Week).