Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal is excitedly pushing a debt ceiling scoop he labels “A Huge Win For The Hard Right.” According to Wiesenthal, the Government Accountability Office has “sent a message” to Congress informing it that the Treasury is legally allowed to prioritize interest payments on government bonds over other obligations.
I’ve written about this before. The basic argument set forth by the White House has been that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the government will default on its bond obligations, destroy the value of the dollar, and kick off a massive economic crisis. But Republicans contend that the Treasury can pick and choose which debts it pays — Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has even introduced legislation requiring that the Treasury pay off bond holders first. In support of this argument, the GOP has cited a 1985 GAO opinion declaring “that the secretary of the Treasury does have the authority to choose the order in which to pay obligations of the United States.” And now, according to Weisenthal, the GAO has reaffirmed that opinion.
Fine. Maybe the Treasury does have the legal authority to pick and choose which creditor it will stiff. But what’s legally possible doesn’t necessarily make pragmatic or political sense, and I still don’t understand why Republicans would feel that this news constitutes a “huge win.”
The Treasury’s position is that any failure by the U.S. government to make payments that it owes — whether to China, a Wall Street investment bank, or an unemployment benefits recipient — will be regarded by financial markets as default. We won’t know if that theory is true until it is tested, but it really doesn’t make any difference how investors will react — because the political implications of prioritizing debt payments to foreign holders of Treasury bonds over domestic spending commitments to the poor, unemployed and elderly will be apocalyptic.
How is this strategy not absolutely suicidal for Republicans? They refuse to raise the debt ceiling, and direct the Treasury to make payments to Wall Street banks and China, while stiffing average American citizens? I can’t think of an easier hand of cards for Obama to play: If the GOP wants to take the risk of simultaneously creating market turmoil and enraging voters, let ‘em!
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.