Debt-ceiling Armageddon!



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A few weeks ago everything was hunky-dory. True, the economy seemed stuck in the doldrums, the neighbors were without jobs, prices at the grocery store were relentlessly moving ever upward — but the TV talking heads continued to blare forth the gospel that the billionaire bailout had saved America from the brink of destruction after the stock-market crash, and that with ever more fiscal stimuli and quantitative easings we could rest assured that happy days would eventually be here again. Well, not-so-sad days, at least.

Moreover, everything seemed to be moving swimmingly on the ever-multiplying fighting fronts, as our drone missiles once in a while hit intended targets in Afghanistan and our Nobel Peace Price-winning president sent U.S. bombers and fighter planes into kinetic military action — stirring phrase! — over Libya to save a million or so Libyans from imminent extermination at the hands of the brutal tyrant du jour, and bad boy of Joan Crawford imitators, Moammar Gadhafi.

It seemed that the only thing one was being encouraged to worry about was climate change, née global warming, which threatened to melt the icecaps, flood all coastal cities and tropical islands, and cause the extinction of the polar bear. Now, the climate argument was a rather complicated thing because sometimes, especially if the temperature here in Hoosierdom fell to about 20 below zero and there was upward of 3 feet of snow on the ground, the TV weather experts pontificated that bad winter blasts were also the result of higher temperatures because warming would actually make it colder, which might bring a New Ice Age that would put most northern cities in the United States under a sheet of ice a mile deep.

The increasing cold, we were told, was explained by the melting ice, changing ocean currents, increased rainfall, and 15 or so other factors that did not have to be known if one simply put one's faith in the opinion of experts, including Dr. Albert Gore, which all respectable people do. (It's Science!)

While I tried to worry as expected — I'm a good citizen! — it was difficult to do so because the dire consequences wouldn't appear for decades and the current weather seemed about the same as ever, though of course only real dunderheads think one can draw conclusions about the climate from the actual weather, except when it comes to using any conceivable type of weather to prove the global-warming thesis. (Science is hard! We'd better leave it in the hands of the leftists. They're smart!)

Anyhow, as predictions and warnings went, it was the climate-change crisis that the eagle-eyed lefties really seemed to be fixated on, perhaps hoping that they'd eventually be able to add it to their glittering record of accurate forecasts, such as the Tragedy of Too Much Affluence, the Population Bomb, Famine 1975, No More Crude Oil by 2000, and their old version of the Coming Ice Age.

But alas! I was rudely shaken out of my peaceful slumber by the strident screams of our media mandarins to the effect that Armageddon had suddenly taken up residence just around the corner because of the Central Government's Himalayan debt. Now, I could have sworn we had been told over and over, and for a long time, that there was nothing to worry about when it came to government debt — that we just owed the money to ourselves (plus a few of our Chinese chums). And besides, a modern government must engage in extensive spending to cover the ever-inflating needs of the people (they're helpless!), which only the state can satisfy.

However, as I listened more closely I found out that the problem was not one of excessive spending — which may float ever upward but is absolutely required, especially in this time of recession with insufficient consumer demand, the liquidity trap, and other obvious failures of the greed-crazed, laissez-faire, free-market, running-dog, dog-eat-dog, sick-as-a-dog, dog-tired capitalism that had dogged us before the advent of Prof. Obama — that super-slick cat — and the cuddly, purring geniuses around him. No, the problem was not one of spending, but as all economists of any merit understood, one of insufficient taxation.

People were just keeping too much of the money they made — especially successful business folks who actually turn profits instead of merely collecting government bailouts. Worst of all, the Republicans, who in the past, despite their anti-government jargon, had been realistic enough to ultimately support any tax and spending measures put before them, were now being so gauche as to actually abide by their promises to the voters, an absurdity never before witnessed in Washington City. And it was all the doing of those Tea Party folks who represent the unwashed yokels of the vast hinterland west of the Hudson and the Potomac. Those wackos of the wilderness harbor irrational resentments against their intellectual superiors and society's poor and helpless, and some actually seek to return America's foreign policy to the antediluvian isolationism that caused Hitler and the Holocaust.

The cantankerous crackpots are so irrational that they expect Congress to abide by its own debt-ceiling law, little understanding that such statutory limits on debt, like all laws, must always be broken or phonied up into humbug for the good of society, and that no intelligent person has ever contemplated sticking by them in the past. (Well, yes, Barack Obama did vote against increasing the debt ceiling when he was in the U.S. Senate, but he was inexperienced at the time and still learning his lessons at the knee of Indiana's own Uncle Dick Lugar.)

Anyway, if responsible statesmen and stateswomen don't do something about those sedition-tending nincompoops from nowheresville — ignore them, put them in protective custody, something — parts of the U.S. government will be forced to shut down, and modern America as we know it will cease to exist. Such a development would be almost as bad as the death of the last polar bear.

Not to worry, though. Amid all the obligatory hand-wringing, crying, and gnashing of teeth, knowledgeable insiders maintain that as the end date approaches our solons will develop enough backbone to abandon all promises made to voters, and by some manipulative strategy avert the disaster; and the Central Government will be allowed to spend a few more trillions of dollars until the time comes when that elevated debt ceiling has to be elevated once again.  Ω

July 23, 2011

Published in 2011 by WTM Enterprises.

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