Monday, August 01, 2011

Pointless wastes of time

I ought to be writing my dissertation right now. But instead I was checking my email, and a friend asked me to explain the current debt-ceiling crisis and what the Republicans are doing about it.

I share my answer here, so that you, my imaginary readers, can see how uninformed I am and how poorly I understand fiscal matters.

The short version, as I understand it, is that many Republicans believe that the most important long-term solution to our fiscal woes is to slow and/or stop deficit spending and the accumulation of national debt.

Like if I had $100,000 credit card debt on my current (meager) salary, my creditors would want to know that I will not default and leave them with all that debt. Borrowing more money in order to pay my creditors might get me through a short term crisis. But in the long term, I need to stop acquiring debt, which means bringing in more money and/or spending less.

In very broad terms, the various Republican plans want the US to spend less before it can borrow more. Democrats want to keep spending, and hope to bring in more revenue by raising taxes. Both parties say that their way (cutting spending, raising revenue) is fiscally responsible and the other way will not work.

None of the plans are very good, in my opinion. All of them stretch out over a period of ten years or so, with the tough sacrifices delayed so they kick in at the very end. That's ridiculous. If I want to lose 30 pounds this year, I can't plan to lose 25 between Christmas and New Years. The fact that we're discussing such obviously fraudulent non-solutions tells me that this is not a real crisis.

When I start seeing our political leaders behaving responsibly and coming up with sensible plans instead of just play-acting, then I'll be really worried.