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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/2/09

Follow The Numbers

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Let's talk about numbers. Big numbers. Huge numbers. Numbers that have gotten so humongous Carl Sagan could build a PBS show around them, if he were still around.

They're so enormous that nothing in our everyday lives allows us to get our heads around them, so we we just let them wash over us as they rush at us from our media of choice.

But get our our heads around them we must. Because the right wing disinformation machine that gave us Newt and Rush and George haven't gone away. They are still out there and these unfathomable numbers are manna from heaven for them. After all, their base is made up largely of folks who like to consider themselves defenders of capitalism against the forces of socialism, while maintaining a standard of living most supposed “European socialists” would consider perilously subsistence.

In other words, they're even bigger suckers than Bernie Madoff's “clients.”

But I digress.

Numbers. Back to those those numbers.

The ubber-talkers of the looney right, Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and the hundreds of right wing talkers from Los Angeles to Dog Patch, are telling their nuance-challenged listeners that the Obama budget is a socialist budget. And, that it will add $4 trillion to the national debt.

Now, $4 trillion is a helluva big number, to be sure. It's four thousand billion dollars. Scary, huh?

And scare them it has. The right wing herd is already shifting nervously in their pens, bleating out the message, “Obama bad. Obama socialist. Obama take guns away. Obama

So imagine what the herd would do if Rush et al told them about this number:  $1.14 quadrillion.

No, that's not a made up word. A quadrillion is one thousand trillion dollars. Not $4 trillion, but $1000 trillion –  and change.

That's how much money the people Rush and O'Reilly think should be in charge of the nation and economy – and who were in fact, in charge until recently – piled up in unregulated derivatives.

Here's the breakdown, according to the International Bank of Settlements, which acts as banker for the world's central banks:

1) Listed credit derivatives stood at USD 548 trillion;
2. The Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives stood in notional or face value at USD 596 trillion and included:
a. Interest Rate Derivatives at about USD 393+ trillion;
b. Credit Default Swaps at about USD 58+ trillion;
c. Foreign Exchange Derivatives at about USD 56+ trillion;
d. Commodity Derivatives at about USD 9 trillion;
e. Equity Linked Derivatives at about USD 8.5 trillion; and
f.  Unallocated Derivatives at about USD 71+ trillion.

No, Rush et al didn't mention any of that. But it's precisely that, not Obama budget, or those “tax and spend liberals,” who are to blame for the worldwide systemic economic collapse we are experiencing. It's the residue of all that Bernie Madoff, smoke and mirrors, wink and nod, cash for trash, phony-baloney, air-asset faux capitalism that's collapsed on everyone.

By comparison Obama's $4 trillion looks downright under-achiever-ish.

So, with that figure put in perspective, we are left to reconsider the right's criticism of Obama's spending decisions.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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