Government debt � the amount of money borrowed by the federal government, state governments, and subdivisions of those two levels of government � is now greater than the entire economy. This obligation or debt of the government is now a dizzying 122 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the nation. The only other time that debt has been this high in America's history was at the end of the Second World War, when wartime spending included a huge slice of the entire economy. The post-war boom and the explosion of pent-up consumer demand quickly generated revenues, however, which reduced that public debt substantially.

The Mississippi House has passed H.B. 608 providing for the establishment of a longitudinal data system to track education and student outcomes in the workforce which will require a multi-agency database. According to the PPJ Gazette for Feb. 21, this means tracking Mississippians from cradle to grave — almost.

A police captain in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will file a lawsuit against the city police department today because it reassigned him after he refused to order his subordinates to attend an event at the city’s mosque on March 4.

Rand PaulWhen newly elected Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed cutting aid to Israel, the howls of protest from all across the bipartisan political spectrum were painfully revealing. Matthew Brooks, executive director for the Republican Jewish Coalition — an organization with several former Bush administration officials on its board of directors — considers cutting the $3 billion a year that the United States gives to Israel to be off limits. “We share Senator Paul’s commitment to restraining the growth of federal spending, but we reject his misguided proposal to end U.S. assistance to our ally Israel,” he said. New York Representative Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that deals with foreign aid, put it more bluntly: “Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable.... I call on all those who value the U.S.-Israel relationship to make it clear that our nation will not abandon our ally Israel.”

EgyptMassive street protests erupted in Tunisia in late December, which ended the 23-year reign of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Fueled largely by an Internet-connected youth movement, the protests were partly a reaction to the publication by WikiLeaks of documents from U.S. diplomatic cables that revealed pandemic corruption by the ruling party, as well as government oppression that included arrests of lawyers, journalists, and political opponents. Another spark helped to ignite the revolt was the dramatic protest by Mohamed Bouazizi, who publicly set himself on fire on December 17 because of frequent government confiscation of his produce in his street vendor’s business and the government’s refusal to issue him the required vendor permits.