Numbers are Fun: McCain/Palin Bankrupts America edition.

Josh Marshall notes today that the weight of lies coming from the McCain campaign around their choice of teh-worst-Vice-Presidential-nominee-evah ™ is beginning to bear down to the point where even such rabid running dogs of the liberal media elite ™ as Fox News and the Fournier-burdened AP are taking note.

So far press attention is focusing on the Bridge to Nowhere deceit that has been part of the New Improved Palin marketing campaign since day one — and more power to that story, as it strikes to the twin cores of the GOP claim on this election:  that John McCain and Sarah Palin are honest, incorruptible; and that they are agents of change primed to upset business as usual.  Begging for money, lying about it, and then keeping the cash once the project is cancelled doesn’t do wonders for such an image.

But just to make sure we don’t lose sight of the larger picture, which is that  Palin has been a disaster at each level of government she has so far attained — and hence that her choice by John McCain represents a truly telling indication of what a McCain administration might do to the American people.  It ain’t pretty.

Today’s demonstration of that claim comes from Palin’s mismanagement of the one significant public works performed in Wasilla, AK, during her tenure as mayor.

As that frothing pinko rag, The Wall Street Journal has reported, Palin’s administration championed the construction of a roughly 15 million dollar sports complex for the town.  The project itself was mismanaged, with rookie errors like failing to complete the purchase of the land needed for the complex before the project began. (Perhaps Palin should have described herself with this edited line:  “What’s the difference between a sheep to be shorn and a small town mayor?  Lipstick…”  Just sayin…)

That’s bad enough — are you sure you want to let this kind of incompetence loose on America again? (In case you’ve blessedly erased the memory, let me just repeat, “Heck of a job, Brownie….”)

But the real sting in the tail comes from the financial consequences for the good citizens of Wasilla that their former mayor is now leaving far, far behind.

When Palin took over as mayor, Wasilla had no long term debt.  When she left, it had accumulated almost 20 million bucks of loans that the town will be paying off for years.*

To understand what that means in the context of a national campaign, all it takes is a little arithmetic.

For example:  One way to look at government debts as something other than just the raw number of the total is to do the simple calculation of how much that debt works out to be for each resident of the jurisdiction paying for a spending spree.

We know how many people live in Wasilla — just under 6,000 at the time Palin stepped down and left her luckless fellow citizens with the bill.  We can thus count her debt not as a total that is hard to place in context, but in units we can compare across the country:  debt per person in the jurisdiction — or roughly $3,600 per Wasilla resident in Palin debt.

Now take that number onto the national stage. By this measure, if Palin/McCain were to achieve a budgetary debacle at the federal level only as bad as that then-Mayor Palin managed for her home town, the total new debt our country would owe (much of it to the Bank of China, most likely) would come to 308 million people times $3,600.

That adds up to $1,108,800,000,000 or more than one trillion dollars.

We’re real money, even by the standards set in the last eight years of GOP misrule.

And that’s not all:  there’s another way to think of the numbers that make Palin’s performance look even worse:

Calculate the accumulated debt as a multiple of the annual budget of the jurisdiction.

In her last year as mayor, Wasilla spent about 5.8 million dollars in non capital expenditures (up 50% from the time she took over, BTW).   Twenty million is roughly 3.3 times that total.

Now take it to the federal level:   The proposed budget for FY 2009 totals 2.65 trillion in discretionary spending (omitting Social Security, Medicare and interest on debt already accumulated).  Multiply that by 3.2 and you get a number in the 9 trillion dollar range.  Even if you cut out military spending from the discretionary total, you still are left with a number that multiplies out on the Palin scale to around 4 trillion.  Ouch.

All of which to say is that while the media is beginning to focus (at last) on the question of whether you can trust  John McCain, his running mate and his campaign say, they might want to pay some attention to another line of inquiry.

Trust them?  Hell–can we afford them?

Image:  German banknotes from the hyperinflation of 1922-1923.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons.

Explore posts in the same categories: Arithmetic, McCain, numbers, Palin, Politics, Republican knavery, ridicule, Stupidity

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2 Comments on “Numbers are Fun: McCain/Palin Bankrupts America edition.”


  1. […] The Inverse Square Blog science and the public square — by thomas levenson « Numbers are Fun: McCain/Palin Bankrupts America edition. […]


  2. […] Numbers are Fun: McCain/Palin Bankrupts America edition: To understand what that means in the context of a national campaign, all it takes is a little […]


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