Do Deficits Matter?

Posted on 11/20/2010. Filed under: Discussion/Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

What could be the result of the United States not getting its fiscal house in order? PushBack provides a possible scenario.

One of the surprises in the book reviews and media interviews has been the concentration on the story setup where the United States Union dissolves as a result of an economic crisis. Only a few paragraphs in the first chapter deal with the collapse and the reasons for the collapse of the United States government, yet  reader and media attention is focused on that aspect of the book.

One interview question has been how a nation as powerful and rich as the United States could collapse so suddenly? I had looked at historical precedence when writing the story to convince myself that such a scenario would be possible. World history is replete with the rise and fall of dominating empires. Some fade slowly, some suddenly. The German and Japanese empires faded rapidly due to being on the losing end of a war, while the English empire, a war winner, also collapsed over a short period of time. The mighty USSR collapsed suddenly over the period of a few months. Power and wealth are one way equivalents. Nations cannot have power without wealth. When the United States has to borrow money from foreigners to finance its government and maintain its standard of living, it exchanges its strength for the use of foreigner’s wealth. It is a prescription for the loss of power and potential collapse.

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One Response to “Do Deficits Matter?”

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The original idea behind the PushBack story had been to make the terrorist in the story look like heroes. The idea had been prompted by my reaction to the declaration of war on Terrorism soon after 9/11. It seemed a little odd to be declaring war on a tactic that is a normal part of war. I made some notes on the subject in 2002 but put it aside while I wrote my first novel, Finding the Way, published in 2004. I picked up the idea again in 2006. I needed something evil to vilify. This led me down the path to use a financial crises that would make the Great Depression look like a Sunday school picnic and cause the breakup of the United States. A result of the breakup would be a rogue white supremacist group taking over control of one of splintered parts of the former United States and who would become the story villains.
In 2006 the deficit was running in the half trillion dollar range and was being financed by foreigners. There was a wall of entitlements building up to unsustainable levels. If nothing were done to correct the country’s finances it seemed likely that that there could be dire consequences. I decided that using a financial crisis to cause the United States, in its present form, to collapse would be a credible scenario.
Fast forward to 2010, and the financial condition of the country is direr than ever and the government seems incapable dealing with the problem. As a result, reviewers of Pushback have zeroed in on a few paragraphs of the first chapter that reveal the collapse and reason for the collapse of the United States. The suggested possibility seems too real to many readers who express their reaction to the book as “scary.”


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