It now takes about 10 cents on every tax dollar collected just to pay the interest on the debt. As bad as that is, it's only because interest rates are at record lows that the debt is still manageable.
How to explain an administration that nationalizes the banking system even as it praises the free market? How to explain a financial system that turned debt into wealth, and wealth into debt? How is it that most people don't even know which country their house belongs to?
Even if the bail-out finally goes ahead, credit is drying up; unemployment is sure to swell, along with all the rage and resentment it brings. So why am I feeling -- tentatively, terribly -- optimistic?
As we prepare to choose a new president, we should look closely at the candidates' approach to our constitutional culture. It will tell us much more than the issue papers and campaign promises that are mainstays of electoral strategies.
The free market is energetic, yes, and creative, yes, and innovative, yes, but stupid. It will gamble its way into bankruptcy, poison its children, destroy its environment -- you can't take the kid anywhere.
In the battle over the proper role of government, the high priests of the church of the Free Market -- including Bush, Paulson, and the Masters of Wall Street -- have suffered a monumental defeat. So why are we allowing them to dictate the terms of their surrender?