The news is dominated by the deficit talks in Washington right now. Simply put, the Republicans want to close the gap through cuts only, Democrats want to do it with a combination of cuts and revenue, and Tea Partiers want to do it through a combination of prayer and some type of mayonnaise “glaze.” If you don’t quite understand it all, you’re not alone. Here’s an exercise to help you visualize the biggest issue “inside the Beltway,” as they say inside the Beltway, the Beltway being an actual leather belt originally worn by President Taft that stretches around Washington, DC: Imagine you’re a politician. (Sorry to do that to you; it’ll be over quickly.) Now picture a pile of money that your citizens earned from their “jobs.” It’ll need to be a really big pile of money that stretches from California all the way to Maine. Man, I bet it would smell good, don’t you? Money has one of those smells, like gasoline or a freshly paved road, where you just want to sniff it so hard you pass out. In fact, most cocaine addicts don’t even like cocaine, they just use it as an excuse to put dollar bills up their nose.
Anyway, back to the money. Imagine now that you have a big broom and are also drunk and stupid and afraid of books. One final detail is that you’ve become a massive giant, because you’ve been eating handfuls of the money when the people who earned it weren’t looking. Now grip the broom’s handle as tightly as Charlton Heston’s corpse’s hands grip the twin mother-of-pearl-handled Smith and Wesson Magnum .44s he was buried with after he finally solved Earth’s “Ape Problem.” Tight, right? Oh yeah…
Then sweep the money right into the ocean. Whistle as you do so. Watch it sink and do absolutely nothing. It will sink slowly and announce, “I am sinking! Please help me! You can easily save me with really only a little effort! If you don’t take action now, ANY solution will be a horrible pain in the ass that might not even work!” Continue to do nothing for about 12 years. Now the money is all gone, down at the bottom of the sea, except for a bunch of the bills that washed up in China.
At this point, realize, “Oh yeah, I want that money now. I want to buy that funny shirt I saw at the mall with the police officer cat saying ‘Move along now!’ to the dogs eyeing a fire hydrant.” But you can’t, because there’s no more money, so what you should do is get very angry and sit down in a La-Z-Boy chair and take a nap. Then get up and yell at poor people and detail how you’re going to hurt them and their grandchildren and how you’re definitely going to take what little they have left so you can buy that awesome cat-cop T-shirt which you’ll never even wear. And when I say poor people, I’m referring to everyone who isn’t in one of the three branches of the government or on the board of a multinational corporation. I mean, they are probably on drugs and won’t be able to take the time away from work (or, increasingly, looking for work) to take you to task and say, “Actually you fat, loathsome giant, you’re the one who did this. I know this because I watched you do it. I was over there trying to raise my family and hang on to my job with my fingernails so that my kids could have health insurance and pants and strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, which are Jeremy’s favorite. Do me a quick favor and don’t lie directly to my face and call it a plan.”
Now you have a reasonably accurate picture of what’s happening in our nation’s capital. Is that OK with you? You’re acting like it might be.
Previously - Look: I Am Your Father