Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God Bless America and Its New Debt Deal

August 9, 2011 – God Bless America and Its New Debt Deal
Walter freaked about the U.S. Debt deal. When he came back from the States in July he found me in the kitchen and asked, “What do you think about this whole thing with the U.S. not being able to pay their debt?” It was the first I’d heard about it. So he told me the little he knew and later I looked it up online. The next day he brought it up again. “This will end the U.S.” he said. “What’s going to happen? What’s going on? The economy will collapse. Things are bad now, what’s it going to be like after this? They can’t pay their debt.”

Oh, Chicken Little, if only the sky would fall.    

I’m no political savant, but I’ve observed enough of the political scene and the media to tell him,
“Nothing is going to happen. Not really. All this hype is just to get people scared.”  I’m getting hot. This stuff pisses me off. “They” (that Conspiracy Theory “They” “Them”) want the American people to feel responsible, guilty, impotent, frightened so that when a bad option is presented all the people breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Thank goodness we don’t actually have to do anything ourselves.” “They” make us feel so worried that when “they” say, “Do your part, cut back, work bad-paying jobs, suffer the consequences of our lack of fiscal sense, don’t complain because it’s hard times for everyone,” we all say, “Okay. We may not like it, but this is just how life is.” And all the while the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. At least the corporations got a bail out a few years ago. That sure helped the economy.
“They have to do something by Tuesday,” Walter exclaims from across the patio where he’s working on fixing the roof. The excess of rain throughout the month of July has made the roof sag. Walter knows if he doesn’t fix it it’ll cave in. Huh, does that sound like an appropriate analogy for this rant? “Or they’ll default. What does that mean anyway? Where will they get the money?”

“There is no money,” I tell him, looking up from my computer where I’m trying to put his life in chronological order. “It’s not real money. Trillions of dollars? It’s just a transfer of pixels from one computer system to another, if even that. The U.S. won’t default. The politicians in Washington won’t let the U.S. be put ultimately in a bad situation. They’re too stuck on being a world power to do that. They’ll wait until the last minute and then they’ll pass some plan. But, I do know that whatever they do, it won’t fix the problem long term.”
I was right and I was wrong.  

The Democrats and Republicans bickered. Oh, poor guys, they had to work through a weekend to try and get to an agreement. Neither one wanted to compromise on anything. It was Left against Right and then back again. Fuck this partisan shit. What we need is a united front. After all we are the United States. We need laws passed and decisions made that actually help the people. You know, the people, like We the people of the United States? But the changes these politicians made a week ago don’t affect the people for good. They temporarily gauze a bleeding, gaping wound, which is in dire need of an operation. The United States of America gasps with pain and holds a hand to its wounded side because in reality what we’re seeing is We the politicians of the United States, We the corporations of the United States and the people fall to pieces along the wayside.
That’s how I see it.

And through it all Obama acted the mediator between the two parties. “Come on, guys, can’t we just get along?” he seemed to say.
On Sunday, I’m out with Oswaldo and Katrina. As we’re walking to Starbucks (of all places) for Katrina’s GRE prepping math class taught by Oswaldo, we’re talking about this same Debt Crisis and the U.S. “What the United States needs is a real leader,” I say. In incoherent English and Spanish I try to tell them exactly what I mean. We’ve had some real live leaders before. People like Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Kennedy. “We need someone who takes a stand, who knows how to solve a problem, and then solves it.” A few days later Katrina forwards me an article. “Think this might be along the lines of what you were talking about in regards to leadership.... Let me know what you think!" she says. And it is.

Part of the problem is the U.S. people. We’re complacent. We’re comfortable. Things haven’t gotten so bad that we actually have to make a stand. We can complain, we can hurt, but we can’t seem to take action.
“It’s like that here in Peru too,” Oswaldo says.

I got a perverse pleasure when I read that Standard & Poor’s gave the United States a lower rating after the debt reduction plan was passed. I think it’s time for America to be accountable. At least it’s time for someone to step in to handle the country’s finances who knows how to balance a checkbook. For crying out loud.

“Who is S&P?” Oswaldo asks.

I shrug.
“God?” he asks.

“Yeah, probably.”
“God gave the thumbs down to the U.S. debt plan,” Oswaldo says, putting both his thumbs down.  

And for good reason too.

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