Yesterday, my tasks at work were more graphical than verbal, and I found myself listening to talk radio again. A while back, I had subscribed to XM, which got swallowed by Sirius (or was it the other way around), so I can access the XM/Sirius radio channels on my computer. I had a choice of listening to left-wing talk radio or right-wing talk radio, and so spent about an hour with each.
The left-wing guy railed against the big corporations that are taking over the world and leaving nothing for the rest of us. He had a guest with an opposing position. The guest shouted; the host shouted; there was plenty of heat but no light. It was a perfect mirror image of Sean Hannity.
The right wing guy bemoaned the freeloaders who were looking for the government to solve their problems, and the widespread lack of personal responsibility.
But I have to wonder: I’m sure that there are conservatives who worry about corporate overreach (many of our founding fathers had the same concerns), and I’m sure that there are liberals who are ticked off with the freeloaders who take no personal responsibility and abuse the system. On a practical level, there’s probably more common ground than most of us care to admit.
Meanwhile, the circus continues in Washington. A couple of plans to stave off default seem to be emerging. Both are of the kick-the-can-down-the-road variety, with the Republican version (which seems more likely to pass at this point) having us do it all over again in six months. But the Tea Party Republicans still consider it as cutting the government too much slack.
In my guts I feel like one of these proposals will get passed, and we’ll all allegedly heave a giant sigh of relief. For my part, I’m not sure that ‘default’ is necessarily a bad thing. First, it won’t be a real default: we’ll still pay interest on our debt, and almost certainly will continue to pay Social Security and the military. Government contractors will probably be told to wait for payment, and parts of the government will get shut down.
But at that point there will be an actual, instead of a potential, problem. We will have to face the naked reality of the situation, and actually do something.
If we’re worried about the country’s credit rating, the damage is already done, and will get worse if we kick the can down the road. But a ‘default’ might actually help the situation because we’ll have to do something about it.
A ‘default’ will be disruptive and unpleasant. But among the alternatives before us, it may be the least painful in the long term.
In any case, we’ll know in six days….