The very thought of a fiscal cliff gives me the creeps. I can imagine a nice family driving on a treacherous twisting, mountain road with a sheer drop on one side and an impassible precipice on the other. Evan though their driving with care and maneuvering slowly, taking each turn with caution an unexpected boulder could collide with the car sending it careening helplessly to the bottom of the rift killing all within.
No fault could be attached, no one was to blame, unless mother earth wants to step up and make reparations, the occurrence would be nothing but a tragic accident, kismet or fate cruelly stepping in to show its power and random malevolence. Accidents happen all the time and no one really tries to explain them away, we all understand the process that life takes, we feel sorrow and pain but accidents happen and there is really nothing we can do about it.
But a fiscal cliff, a metaphorical happenstance is much more than a random incident, it is just the opposite, it must be planned and foreseen, deliberate in its design as it rounds the financial roads, slipping and dodging the predetermined boulders of debt and income, crashing purposely into the hefty guardrails, diving with express intent toward the bottom of the monetary chasm. I have often asked myself why a government or municipality has the option of misusing its fiduciary funds so callously.
Using our resurrected, imaginary family again let’s put them in a nice house with two new cars, fine cloths for Bobby and Jane and the lots of lesson and sports for the kids. The bills continue to pile up, the income stays the same. Bobby loses his job but they cannot bear to reduce their life style nor take away from the opportunities for their children. It’ll all work out Bobby tells Jane and with smiles they continue to spend.
We’ve all been there, except not so irresponsibly. Most realize the impending cliff of disaster looming large and dangerous. Changes come quickly when finances don’t match up to lifestyle; alterations are made to balance the needs with the wants, once again creating equilibrium and financial harmony. Hamburger replaces stake, or beans replace hamburger as the decisions are made, often in desperation, to restore financial symmetry. For many balance cannot be found and even more drastic measures are taken or forced but in the end that natural law of living within means forces everyone to take stock and follow the rule or suffer the inevitable consequences of disobedience. Why do governments get to break that rule? I understand they print the money and basically can finance anything at any time for as much as they need, but the level of selfishness and shortsightedness is astounding.
Basic economic principles are so easy to understand that it takes great planning and practice to circumvent those principles, a coordinated attack, a conspiratorial mandate in order to pull off such a grand- scam as what our government perpetrates year after sickening year.
I have to live within a budget. We have beans two times a week and getting a stake, I’m lucky I like hamburger helper. My clothes are old, my shoes hurt my feet and our cars, well let’s not go there. Like millions of others we are forced to endure the reality of life within our means, going without the things we want so we can have the things we need.
For all those who live within their means, liberal or conservative, for debt is blind to political ideology, the lessons learned through prudent living must have a say in our future government. They must learn that spending is the problem. Did you know the total of all income for all concerns in the country for 2011 was nearly 9 trillion dollars? On 10 December 2012, debt held by the public was approximately $11.575 trillion or about 72% of GDP. Can you see the problem? Even if you taxed 100 percent of all income we would still be in debt over 1 trillion dollars.
Understanding a Trillion: David Krieger
This is the way to understand a trillion. Begin by counting 1,2,3…one number each second, and count each second around the clock. In 12 days, you will reach one million. Keep counting. In 32 years, you will reach one billion. Admittedly, this is an impossible task, far beyond our capacities for concentration and focus, not to mention sleep deprivation.
The really hard part, though, is that to reach one trillion would require counting for 32,000 years. It would require organizing the next 1,280 generations to continue the 24 hour counting in 32 year shifts. This would require passing the baton to future generations for more than three times the span of civilization from its roots in Mesopotamia to the present.
Now consider that the world is spending over $1.2 trillion annually on military expenditures, and the United States is spending more than half of this amount on its military and its wars. Or consider this: the United States alone has spent some $7.5 trillion on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems since 1942. To count to $7.5 trillion would require counting for the next 240,000 years, through 9,600 generations. And our militarism has created in the US alone $9 trillion in debt which, along with our militarism and nuclearism, is our legacy to future generations.
David Krieger is the President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org).
Unions are demanding their promised share, government workers are increasing and the public sector is having to foot the bill but were at that point in our journey where the car is careening out of control, the kids are screaming in the back seat, the wife is crying in despair but her stubborn husband fails to see the cliff ahead, continues to drive toward the precipice. It may be too late, salvation from past decisions may be impossible. Eat, drink and be Merry for tomorrow we die…we might as well have fun spending other people’s money, except that option is only open to our government and the evil leaders who continue to allow it to happen. What will you do about it?