Friday, July 29, 2011

Too Big to Fail?

Extremely principled members of Congress are going to push the government past the deadline to raise the debt limit. That seems inevitable. Whether you agree with them or not, the Tea Party faction of the Republican majority is going to take us all along on their experiment in economics.

Some economists predict dire consequences. Others are less concerned. I've heard a lot more shooting around my rural neighborhood as the deadline approaches, so maybe the survivalist demographic thinks we'll face real social breakdown. Or maybe they finally saved up enough money to buy some ammo after a very quiet early summer.

Because the government's financial obligations won't disappear just because the Tea Party wishes it were so, expenses will rise, further straining the middle class. Because the middle class has been deemed unnecessary, this will be no loss. However, the bottom layer of the top class will start to crumble away as it takes more and more money to maintain a lifestyle that will have to include privately purchased replacements for many services government currently provides.

I'm not sure how much longer we could have afforded ourselves anyway. China is rising, but what will they stand above when civilization as we've come to know it is no longer affordable? We could have staved off a massive change in the not-too-distant future with some small changes back when a nerdy peanut farmer from Georgia suggested them in the late 1970s, but why dwell in the past? We are a nation that has been well served by charging obstinately forward for about three centuries. It's not like the whole thing will come crashing down immediately. Disruption creates opportunity. It doesn't guarantee that everyone will see an opportunity. Change is not always good, and certainly not always good for everyone.

We don't even know how much will change, how quickly.

We do know that there will not be another bailout. We're going to ride this one down to the ground for better or for worse. Happy landings!

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