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A growing number of Americans seem to have concluded that elections offer no real choice, that whoever wins is going to spend and borrow more each year and extend Washington’s power here and abroad, so why bother voting? That point of view is being ratified by the budget deal now working its way through Congress. […]

What the Republican Civil War Means For Gold

by John Rubino on October 18, 2013 · 43 comments

In one sense, the past couple of weeks’ debt ceiling debate was just one more in a long line of annoying-but-otherwise-pointless pieces of bad political theater. But in another sense it was a turning point, one that may have put the democrats completely in charge. Consider: In a system with two viable parties, each side […]

“How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways, gradually and then suddenly” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun also Rises Senate majority leader Harry Reid is on C-SPAN this morning lamenting the republicans’ unwillingness to negotiate even after Reid and his party agreed to what they consider to be painful cuts. “[Speaker of the House] John Boehner […]

This week both Italy and the US saw their ruling coalitions splinter. First Italy: Italy’s Coalition Teeters as Berlusconi Allies Walk Out Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government teetered on the verge of collapse after allies of former leader Silvio Berlusconi, led by Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano, said they planned to quit the cabinet. The […]

As an Italian-American I’m allowed to say it: Italians are an amusing mess. They go on about “la dolce vita,” the sweet life of long lunches and short work days and pretty girls on little scooters – without acknowledging or apparently even realizing that the whole show is based on other people’s money. Take away […]

The fiscal cliff was always going to end with a whimper because that was the obvious path of least resistance. In the end, simply avoiding big tax increases and spending cuts while adding a few more trillion to the coming decade’s deficit was rewarded by the markets with a huge rally. Everybody went home happy, […]

The premise of this series is that once a country’s debt rises to a certain level, the country becomes impossible to govern. Voters accustomed to a relatively easy life based on other people’s money won’t accept the truth that they’re not actually rich, so each new leader sees his or her popularity plunge almost immediately and […]

Secessionist Movements: Another Layer of Complexity

by John Rubino on October 30, 2012 · 9 comments

One of the lessons of medieval history (I’m listening to one of those recorded lecture series on the subject this week) is that Europe wasn’t always made up of today’s familiar countries. Italy, Germany, and Spain in particular started out as a patchwork of smaller kingdoms and principalities that were eventually rolled up by the […]

Europe’s political problems are hogging the headlines, with good reason. So much debt is coming due so soon that big decisions about Greece and Spain have to be made within the next couple of months to avoid a systemic melt-down. But the US has some deadlines of its own, with no consensus on what to […]

Why We’re Ungovernable

by John Rubino on July 14, 2010 · 34 comments

For the first time in 250 years, politics has become irrelevant. Not uninteresting or unimportant; obviously the way a society organizes itself matters to its citizens and its place in the world. But today there are no policies left on the “possible” menu that will save us from what’s coming. So a rational person’s time […]

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