Monday, August 1, 2011

Politics As Usual

I did my very best to avoid the As the Stomach Turns/Debt Ceiling Follies headlining the DC Congress-theater this summer. I did not succeed. Everywhere I turned there was a new headline blaring the latest installment of Budget-Hostage Negotiations: 2011.

I didn’t agonize over “will they/won’t they?” I already knew the ending. The debt ceiling would be raised, just as it has been every year since it was “established”. I viewed it as history repeating itself. It reminded me of the “hold the budget hostage’ follies in the mid-1980’s, (and mid 1990's and...) when federal paychecks were delayed so they could be added to the next year’s budget instead of the current one. That clever accounting sleight of hand sure fooled everyone, right?

And then a really appalling realization hit me: I’ve been around long enough to see history repeating itself. I have been around long enough to conclude that things will never change. The players may change, but the nauseating show just goes on and on and on.

I used to believe that Congress was making progress in running this country. Now I don’t think they’ll ever fix anything. They’ll only make it worse.

I’ve come to appreciate the irony applied when naming new laws. I know that one (hypothetically) named “Widow & Orphan Assistance Act” would ultimately cut benefits to widows and orphans while increasing subsidies to life insurance companies. I know that one (hypothetically) named the “Automobile Safety Act’’ would have little impact on passenger safety while making sure that well-connected car makers are safe from competition. Wonderful, wonderful irony.

Whatever moniker they give a bill, I assume it achieves the opposite. Makes life simpler. That way I don’t get my hopes up.

I know I’m echoing almost any member of the populace who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention when I express my disgust with the latest show. Few of us have emerged from this travesty without a really bad taste in our mouths. It has been one of the most depressing episodes of As the Stomach Turns in recent history.

Beer, anyone?

Nah. I think this calls for Tequila.

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