Monday, October 21, 2013

108 Days

After a near miss on a plane
You swear you'll never fly again
After the first kiss when you make up
You swear you'll never break up again
And when you've just run a red light
Sit shaking under the street light
You swear to yourself you'll never drink and drive again
“Four Minutes”


Roger Waters

Unfortunately, as a savvy consumer of the media (having my formal training in Broadcasting and thirty years in the industry) I can only feign surprise at the way that the media is talking about the recently averted financial crisis. They keep talking about how closely we avoided driving off the cliff, how we avoided the worst of it, etc. It has all the sincerity and accuracy of Maxwell Smart saying that he “…missed it by that much!” (…while holding his thumb and forefinger practically touching in front of his eye, indicating some minute amount.)

The problem is that we didn’t miss it… we have simply backed up to take a running start at it – at least, that is what is apparent from the news coverage. The small faction of the far-right margin of the Republican Party that wanted to shutdown the government still want to do this. Asked what the lesson of the recent multi-billion dollar waste of time and money was, the TEA Party does not tell you that it was a waste of time and money – but that it has gotten us talking. Have they not been listening? We have been talking for years.

We have told them ‘no’ over forty-some times. No, you cannot stop the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from taking effect. It is the law of the land and the fact that you have been against it is now simply an academic oddity. Senator Cruz of Texas has gone so far as to say that the strategy was a fundamentally good one and that the problem with it was that we didn’t go far enough. What!? Really!?

“Yes, officer I have been drinking, but the reason I almost got in an accident is that I am not quite intoxicated enough.”

Part of the problem is that we have this stupid thing called the debt ceiling. It is a completely fictitious concept which is as unenforceable in concept as it is in reality. Theoretically, it keeps us from over-spending by preventing the president from borrowing to pay the bills. In reality, it does no such thing. It simply makes the markets and the rest of the world nervous while degrading the “full faith and credit of the U. S. Government” to be as meaningless on our money as “Fair And Balanced” is when applied to Fox News.

The problem is not the borrowing to pay the bills, the problem is running-up the bills in the first place. This fighting over the debt ceiling is somewhat akin to the argument that if you just file-away the bills un-opened when they come in, you can run-up as much as you want on your plastic. (Try that for a while and see how those good folks at MasterCard react.) Besides

Besides, the president is compelled to spend the money that congress authorizes under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control act. So, the problem is that Congress spends too much. The way to fix this is not to refuse to pay the bills but to quit running-up the bills in the first place.

Which leaves us with this dangerous fiction; this loaded weapon that has been left-out where the children are playing. The TEA Party seems to be intent on using the debt ceiling as a cudgel again so, let’s remove it! Senator Mitch McConnell has been floating an idea for a few years now to solve the debt ceiling issue by simply removing the debt ceiling! Doing so would make it so that the TEA Party could still hurt the country but not the world by crashing the markets.

And right now, there’s only about a hundred days before they get their next chance to be drunk-in-charge again. Quick, hide the keys!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ll spend at least a moment in sober contemplation.

 Don Bergquist – October 21, 2013 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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