The press informs us that we are a couple of weeks from total Armageddon. (For the press is made of people for whom even the briefest temporary shutdown of centralized government is indeed horrific.) Apparently “sequestration” is the new vocabulary for this tragic impossibility. How did we get here?
The summer of 2012 was an excellent summer. The skies were clear. The fishing was excellent. I even got my tractor running. I also stacked plenty of firewood… because winter always comes.
What didn’t happen in 2012 was a shutdown of the Federal Government. Nope. That little ebb and flow was reserved for 2011. In 2011 a Federal shutdown came close and a couple of states shut down for a bit. It generally passed without greatly enhancing our fiscal sensibilities but any time a politician recognizes the concept of “finite” I think it’s a good thing. True to my Curmudgeonly projections, 2012 was the year when everyone in D.C. endeavored to whistle past the graveyard. They kept the election year lights on; somehow. Presumably one cannot shut down the beacon of Obama phones blazing forth from their tower of debt before an election. Heavens no.
I love probability. Especially when I can see the outlines of the game board.
On November 5th of 2012 America held an election. I stayed up late watching the returns. As always, the peaceful transition of power in our ever more powerful central government is a source of joy and awe. Unfortunately, the transition of power was from the guy who’d burned money like it was a mission from God to the very same guy. His fans partied hardy. I took a stiff drink, resigned myself to another four years of bullshit, and went to bed. The following day was an important one; I had to repair the chicken coop. Winter always comes.
November 6th I mentally reconfirmed my intention to avoid most political commentary. At some point standing on the deck of the Titanic bitching about icebergs just isn’t productive. There comes a time to put on your life jacket and get ready. (Possibly grab one last drink at the bar while you’re at it.)
So what came next? About ten seconds after the media had anointed their chosen one, they discovered a new word in their vocabulary. “Fiscal cliff!” Remember that? As far as the media was concerned there was no “fiscal cliff” until November 6th. I pretty much ignored it. The truck needed repair and it was time to butcher our Thanksgiving turkey. Delicious!
A month later, when the “fiscal cliff” had been safely kicked down the road, it was time to hyperventilate about… wait for it… guns! Yes, the nasty evil baby seal clubbing implements of doom that are self aware and leap off the table to gun down innocent nuns. They were suddenly in the spotlight. The stampede began and it hasn’t yet played out. All I can think is that I knew this was coming on November 5th. So did you. Who didn’t? Be honest with yourself; who among us expected a second Obama term without this fight? Everyone, right and left alike, knew that this was on the wish list somewhere just behind socialized medicine. So now the stores are cleaned out of Ar15s and my friends are all worried. I just haven’t the heart to be pissed off. This, like all political bullshit, shall pass. Whether it’ll get bad or worse, I don’t know but I never expected a flowering of human dignity and respect for individuals. This is why, of the many articles about guns I’ve hammered into my laptop, very little has reached my blog. Everyone reading this made up their mind long ago. Besides, it was time for Christmas. While D.C. hyperventilated in their playpen I enjoyed hearth and home.
Now that the gun control fuse is lit it’s time for the eyes of Sauron to turn to their next “problem” in desperate need of solution. “Sequestration!” (Funny me but I think of sequestration as putting the ducks and turkeys in a different pen from the hens. Sequestration is a bizarre way to say “we’re out of money”.) Sequestration implies that we cannot make wise decisions about debt so we must make unwise decisions about debt. I don’t disagree. We cannot (or have not) made wise decisions so math alone forces us into unwise ones. Frankly I’m simply happy that a decision might be made.
Here is where I’m hoping to say “the glass is half full”… I’m not naturally an optimist so bear with me.
Unlike 2012, it appears that 2013 is a year when unreality cannot paper over the debt. It feels like everybody (from both sides of the spectrum) is bone tired of pretending. Denial is hard. Collectively they might just cut something, a little, when all other options are exhausted, maybe. Sure it’ll be a mess and people (me included) will get hosed. Either way it’s at least an acknowledgement of the concept of “finite”. I never expected an outbreak of fiscal responsibility. This is as much as I’m going to get. I’m heartened that neither party is ready to fold…yet. In fact it seems a bit of a ray of hope.
Sure sure. I’m a hopeless deluded optimist. Folks will comment that the end is nigh, etc… I agree but I can still stop to smell the flowers. Sequestration will amount to a lot of press releases amid very little debt reduction but it’s a smidge more than zero.
Also, lest you think I’m gloating from my fully stocked fortress of doom, with it’s pile of suddenly valuable Ar15s leaning against a truckload of dried beans… it’s not so. The bad economy hurts me too. Our tax bill just grew and the uncertainty of a shutdown will likely kick our little household’s finances in the groin too. I can live with it. Bad news is much better than willful delusion and when there’s no more money there’s no more money. I’ll no more weep over a temporary “sequestration” shutdown than I’d weep over gravity should I slip off a ladder. The issue is the ladder, not the gravity.
Let us rejoice that 2012 is over and some tiny figment of reality still remains. Should we have a shutdown, let us hope it’s as painless as possible, but painful enough to do some good.