Hair on Fire
The world didn’t end on Friday.
What concluded was the ancient Mayan calendar. Oh, the Mayans didn’t predict that to be the end of the world. They had planned to celebrate — only their civilization collapsed long in advance. All the world-ending catastrophe stuff was created and hyped because some modern-day non-Mayans wanted to make a buck selling a pretend story of death and destruction.
Just for fun, to get the blood flowing.
They no doubt found a large, thankful audience eager to be scared. To a point, since, so far, the world is undefeated in contests against world-ending catastrophes.
We have it so good we have to make up things to frighten ourselves. Those adept at this art sell a lot of tickets, and get rich.
But it’s one thing to make too much of a calendar; it’s another to actually set the End-of-Times ball rolling yourself.
The Mayan “apocalypse” was scheduled for the pre-Christmas shopping rush. The Washington “fiscal cliff” is scheduled for the New Year.
Insiders in the nation’s capital still pretend to be warding off the one-two whammy that constitute this so-called cliff: Scheduled tax hikes and scheduled spending cuts. Even as they tell us that the solution to our problem is a combination of tax increases and cuts in spending. Just not the terrible tax hikes and cost-cutting that they soberly voted to impose right when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve . . . and most of them will have gotten themselves toasted.
But I’m not afraid of the big, bad cliff. In my Common Sense e-letter, I urge mass swan dives into the cold water below. It’s not that I want my taxes to go up; I don’t. But I’m tired of being held hostage.
Taxes shouldn’t go up because government isn’t the best use of any expendable dollars we have. Who among us would voluntarily give anything extra to government, other than what is taken by force, even as we gladly make other charitable contributions?
Because, simply, when we want to help, say do more for education, we can get much better return on our investment by writing a check to a private foundation or directly to a local school, public or private, than by sending our check to the Department of Education in Washington.
Billions are donated each year to charity; close to zero is given to the federal government. There is a reason.
But if we decide collectively (through very poor election choices and pitiful levels of representation) that government needs more money, it just seems wrong to take all the money from only 2 percent of the people. That doesn’t even resemble fair or equal treatment.
I’m the equal of any man or woman, regardless of income, and therefore, I prefer we all stand together. Either all our income tax rates remain as is or all of us go back to the old, higher rates.
As for spending cuts, like so many others, Drake Bennett writes in Bloomberg Businessweek that these cuts have “the likely side-effect of throwing the country back into recession.”
Yet, the required cuts under sequester are paltry. The total $1.2 trillion is over ten years. In 2013, the federal government would reduce spending by just $55 billion in defense and $55 billion outside of defense. That’s only roughly ten percent of the annual trillion-dollar-plus deficits being racked up in past years and into the future.
If such a small trimming brings on recession, how are we ever going to make the much bigger cuts needed for long-term sustainability?
Step back and consider: while the overwhelming majority of Americans, no matter how financially uneducated, manage to go about their daily lives without cratering the economy or endangering the security of unborn generations, those who represent us in the federal government have made such cataclysmic possibilities a full-time occupation . . . with round the clock television coverage.
Who needs long-dead Mayans for prophets of doom when we’ve got real-time doom-doers on salary . . . with pensions and everything?
And, believe me, the precipice they’re pushing us towards after the much-feared near-term double-whammy will make the horrors of this “fiscal cliff” look like a curb-side toe stubb. [references]