I woke this morning thinking about the ticking Doomsday machine–the “fiscal cliff”–that our politicians, left and right, created about a year ago. How, in our great democracy, could such an everyone-looses sort of thing be permitted?
It strikes me that the whole end-of-world-as-we-know it scenario is a bit too convenient. Something about the whole drama stinks. And then I read Paul Krugman’s take on this play early this morning:
The point is that the whole focus of budget discussion is based on a combination of bad economics and bad (and fundamentally dishonest) politics. We’re looking not so much at a Grand Bargain as at a Great Scam.
It strikes me that the climax to the morality play being presented has already been determined. The idea that great democratic decisions are being taken is merely an illusion conjured by the authors of the play.
The story goes that our collective profligate behavior has caught up with us and now the time has come for each and every one of us to pay the piper. Explains Ron Lieber, in today’s NYT:
We are not collecting enough money to pay for the promises we’ve made to one another. (i.e our debts)
As to what we might do to solve “OUR” debt problem, Lieber opines:
We don’t have much control over what will happen in Washington or our state capitals next year, or 10 years from now. But most of us can probably find ways to earn a little more, save a little extra or spend a little less.
So goes the story of how WE made risky bets on the future–husbands and wives both went to work leaving children to fend for themselves. We put our pensions, now privatized, into managed mutual funds that could “only go up”. Then we mortgaged our homes to keep pace with the world around us and “invested” in student loans in hopes of higher wages tomorrow.
And then so many of us, having lost on our bets, had the chutzpah to claim unemployment when laid off, or claim Social Security and Medicare entitlements when we got old and sick.
There something amiss with this high-handed morality play we are being fed, that tells us that the suffering we are bound to endure is of our own making.
The flaw in the stories of crises being foisted upon dazed and confused Americans is that of blaming the victims–convincing them that they are by nature, unable to live up to their own sense of fairness and equity. This great scam is routinely perpetrated by con artists who grow richer with each crisis they create–each doomsday machine they cobble together–and then profit from the fear, yearning and self-loathing their machines instill in the hearts and minds of their marks.
There’s another story that can be told, in which people blow up the doomsday machines, turn on the scammers and throw them in prison for a long, long time. But that is, as they say, another story.