On the super-hosed side, there's the fact that we have so much debt. What, we're going to cut 2 trillion dollars... over the next N years... leaving us still with 13 trillion dollars? Or is that optimistic even? And won't interest on these loans end up putting us back to 15 trillion? or worse?
On the just-kinda-hosed side, maybe if we ever get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, don't invade anywhere else, and fix the incentives in our medical system, that'd cut a large part of our budget. Maybe we could even spend some money on schools or something.
What got me thinking about this? Big systems. Seems like everyone should have to study software, economics, neuroscience, or something where there's a big goddamn system with a million billion interconnecting parts. Have you ever looked at a website and said "man, they just need to change this one thing; how hard can that be?!" The answer is sometimes "very hard." Most engineers understand this. The medical, financial, military-industrial, educational, political, etc. worlds, similarly, are big friggin' systems!
Not that an understanding of some big web app grants me magical knowledge of how to fix our medical system. Rather, an understanding of how hard it is to do stuff in a web app gives me at least an appreciation of why these are very hard problems.
(also was spurred on by this; I like his definition of "usury".)