EVERYONE REMEMBERS WHAT happened on Sept. 11, 2001, but do you remember the ideology of those who hijacked the planes and destroyed thousands of lives, including their own?
They were fanatics who believed they were serving a righteous cause — and who didn’t give a damn that it would destroy the lives of others and cause great suffering. Mohammed Atta and his fellow maniacs couldn’t care less what anybody else thought about that — or anything else — because they were blind followers of a warped tradition, based on a medieval religion; they would cheerfully have burned up the whole planet if they thought it would please their skewed image of Allah.
Naturally, we think what they did was crazy, evil and wrong. Yet we have a very similar group of irresponsible nihilists in Congress today. As I write this, they are presenting a huge, real and immediate threat to this nation’s economy. Not satisfied with shutting down or paralyzing large portions of the government, they are threatening to plunge this nation into an economic abyss worse than another Great Depression.
Defaulting on the national debt is something that could ruin our country for all time. Any economist whose eyes don’t rotate independently in their head will tell you that default would be a disaster. Nobody in office, not since the time of George Washington, has ever dreamed of defaulting on the debt.
Every U.S. Savings bond, every Treasury note ever issued has always been backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States of America. That’s why other countries lend us money. That’s why other national currencies — China’s, for example – are tied to the dollar, not, for example, to the Euro.
If we default on our debt, even once, we suddenly lose our status as the pillar of the world’s economic system.
“The devastation to the United States would be so severe that it would take decades to recover from the depression caused by a default,” a banking analyst at Rafferty Capital Markets wrote in a report to that New York-based firm’s clients.
The stock market would crash, big-time. Those of us who have retirement funds and investments could easily see large portions of their value wiped out. If the maniacs succeed in forcing a debt default, NBC News calculates that the government may not have money to make Social Security payments after that date. Can you say end of life as we know it?
That’s what we’re looking at, comrades. Now, you could always expect to find cranks in city parks that believe, for example, defaulting on the debt would be a good thing. They also often believe the earth is flat, the moon landings were faked, there is no such thing as climate change and the universe is only 6,000 years old. From time to time, a few of those nuts have even made it to Congress.
Previously, however, they weren’t allowed to touch the machinery. But now, however, they are close to controlling the asylum. The New York Times ran a front-page story on Oct. 8 quoting a wide selection of congressional wackos — all Republicans — who believe defaulting on our debts wouldn’t be that bad. Most were ignorant as cats, or pretended to be.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) shrugged at the thought of a default. His theory was we could pay the interest on our loans from the money we are saving by not paying federal employees during the government shutdown.
That’s about as logical as the, “I don’t need to find a job, there’s all that money under the sofa cushions,” theory.
Then, of course, there’s Rand Paul, the Republican Kentucky senator, who lives in an imaginary universe invented by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand. “If you don’t raise your debt ceiling, all you’re saying is, ‘We’re going to be balancing our budget,’” he told the newspaper.
(Yes, and I could lose the weight I need to shed quickly by cutting off my head.) What’s scary is that Sen. Paul’s thinking is pervasive enough that this just might happen.
Responsible Republicans – Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, for example – know this is nuts. Business groups and corporations, traditionally solidly Republican to the core, are pleading with their representatives not to do this.
But like any true fanatics, they see the light. They believe stopping the legitimately enacted Affordable Care Act is so important that they should shut down the government to stop it, and they believe achieving what their warped brains believe is a “balanced budget” is worth destroying the economy for, if that’s what it takes.
By the way, where are Congress’ two top Republicans — men who really do know better — Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell?
Mostly hiding, terrified at what’s coming, but even more terrified of the prospect of standing up to the Taliban and losing their jobs — or revealing to their party and nation what everyone already knows: That they really are in command of nothing.
Our national leaders have always been partisans. But they used to think the nation’s welfare was the most important thing of all; and the best of them knew that, from time to time, they might have to take a difficult stand.
“It is when the politician loves neither the public good or himself, or when his love for himself is limited and is satisfied by the trappings of office, that the public interest is badly served,” one young U.S. senator once wrote.
That author, by the way, was John F. Kennedy and that quote is from a book called Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He wasn’t writing about Boehner, who he never heard of, and who was a 6-year-old at the time. We all might be better off, however, if Boehner hadever read or understood that book.
Fare Well, Kwamster:
There’s no point rehashing what happened last week. The disgraced mayor and his thug buddy, the odious Bobby Ferguson, were sent to the federal joint for what, hopefully, will be the political equivalent of forever. Even if he behaves himself in the joint (not likely) KK won’t get out until at least 2037.
Everybody knows what he did. But now it is time to do something right and just, which will both help heal Detroit, and further punish Kilpatrick in a way that may really get to him.
Stop talking, blogging and writing about him; completely, forever, and as of right now. Kilpatrick, we know, is a sociopath who craves attention. He doesn’t deserve any more. Mayor at 31, he had the whole world in his hands. Instead he helped make the city a national disgrace and cost its poor people millions of dollars in his effort to cover up his crimes.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.