Debt Limits, Paintings and Lawn Darts

Today’s award for the largest crock of shit expressed between quotation marks goes to Patrick J. Tiberi (R.OH) who said, “Whatever we move, there will be critics everywhere, but at the end of the day we still have to govern.”

Archaeologists have been retained to determine the last time any member of Congress gave a damn about governing.

The context was the development of a Republican strategy for yet another vote on the debt limit. There must be a secret constitutional amendment that precludes actually limiting debt from any discussion of the debt limit.

No matter who is talking – D’s or R’s — the discussion is always about something other than limiting debt when members of Congress are voting not to do so.

In most budgeting endeavors, priorities can be expressed as “nice to have” and “need to have.” This sort of analysis is nearly never done because it can be avoided simply by borrowing more money until; inevitably, the lenders fold their arms across their chest and say no.

This does not happen often but, when it does, kerfuffles ensue. Portugal and Detroit find themselves in deepest kerfuffle thanks to their slavish adherence to long-standing policies of ignoring excess borrowing. Lender arms are now folded. “No” is being said, and both Portugal and Detroit are bankrupt.

A well-known unpleasantness of bankruptcy is that someone does not get paid. Those lawyers, who are best able to assure that the person not getting paid is someone other than their client, have earned large fortunes, measured by billable hours, as a result of such disputes.

Lenders – much coveted when borrowing was needed – are now depicted as rapacious fat cats.

Front line municipal employees – much needed when there were fires to be fought, thugs to be subdued or kittens to be rescued – are now depicted as overpaid lay-abouts collecting pensions traded for votes.

And then there are civic assets that can be sold for the benefit of both groups of combatants.

Or not.

In the case of Detroit and Portugal the civic assets drawing the most attention are paintings. Rapacious fat cat lenders and overpaid lay-about pension collectors are damned equally by those who believe the patrimony of their preferred locale is being fenced to pay for past political sins.

It is.

Curiously in all of this kerfuffling, there is no consequence for those whose inept governance turned their communities into lawn darts nose-diving into the turf. Their collective failure to take even the smallest steps toward fiscal rectitude goes entirely unpunished.

lawn darts

The proceeds of the sale of even a small painting should be quite sufficient for the purchase of a state of the art guillotine. Admission could be charged as the turn-around begins.

And keeping the guillotine around after its work was done might sharpen the minds of successors in office.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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4 comments

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  • A propos of nothing except the inane quote with which you began today’s missive, I ran across an interesting ditty today, more so due to its source than the actual words:
    “When words lose their meaning,
    People lose their liberty.” Confucius.
    While there are hundreds of contestants, W.J. Clinton still holds the world title for obfuscation, in my opinion. Obama is not far behind.

  • Today we are printing 85 billion dollars a month to pay our bills (yes I know it was reduced lately. I hope that sticks). For each dollar the government spends, it only collects 80 cents in taxes. The fed has lowered the price it charges member banks to 0%, so banks can make money borrowing money at 0% and making 2% doing anything. Unemployment remains high as we ship jobs overseas and our domestic companies do not hire. Unskilled labor is hit particularly hard and many are simply leaving the work force. We have more people on food stamps than any time in history, with a smaller percentage of our total population working. That means, since the Federal government does not have a savings account, that a smaller number of working folks is supporting a higher number of retirees. Health costs are getting more expensive as technology improves to keep us living longer. Banks are sitting on their cash reserves, investing it in the stock and bond market instead of lending it out. They know what happened last time when they were too lenient on lending standards and they don’t want that to happen again, and government oversight is also forcing them to be careful.

    It is clear that the way we are doing things to today is just not working, just as the way we did things in the 70’s did not work. We have many persistent problems that can not be solved simply by the government playing Robin Hood. We need a bold breakout. I hope Mr. Obama sees that, but if he doesn’t, I hope the voting public does.