Fiscal Cliffing Down the Road
By Kenneth Cooper
Happy Monday! How does it feel to live in a perpetually mismanaged state? Not your own personal state of being that is, but that other state, the one you reside in, the one known for its terrible educational system, high prison rate, and yearly budget crisis. Well here we are in a new year, January to be exact, and what would January be without king cake, and billion-dollar budget deficits to consider.
We’ve tried the typical solutions to relieve our perpetual mismanagement, like voting for new representatives and governors. We’ve tried and still find ourselves like Sisyphus standing at the bottom of a hill trying to figure out what to do with this boulder (see Greek mythology). Our governor, the man we elected to put an end to the perpetuation, is helping to prolong it instead. Most of his proposed solutions this year are ones that have been perpetual non-starters in the past – things like eliminating a federal tax deduction, expanding the sales tax to cover internet purchases, adjusting tax brackets, all of which are proposals Republican reps haven’t been able to say nay to fast enough.
So around and around we go, raiding a trust fund here, implementing a temporary sales tax hike there, after which we once again face a disastrous deficit that if left unattended could destroy the state as we know it, or so we’re told. It reminds me of this allegory:
So a bunch of clowns are in this car, and the car is headed towards this cliff, and it’s a real steep cliff, the kind that if the car drives off of it irreparable damage would occur to the clowns, the car, the ground, and to possibly whoever is in the nearby vicinity when the car hits. The clowns are scared. One clown says, hey, we’ll make it if we just turn the wheel to the right. Another says, no, we have to veer more to the left. So the clowns fight over the wheel, jerking it right and left so that the car swerves on and off the road it’s on. That would be fine if they were on an abandoned road, but they’re not, so when the car swerves, it hits people, all kinds of people – rich people, poor people, middle class people, men, women, and children. As the bodies pile up, the clowns begin to fight over which people are getting hit, at which proportion, and whose fault it is.
While arguing, the clowns suddenly realize that the more people they hit the slower the car goes, and as a result the longer it will take them to reach the cliff. They ponder this. While they ponder this, people up the road start to talk about the clowns and their approaching car. To avoid the clowns and the car, some people decide to move, some just stand in the road complaining, others devise plans to remove the clowns from the car.
The clowns continue to ponder how their fate is affected by the piling bodies when one clown looks down at the floorboard and says, hey what do you think the other pedal is for? Another clown says, I don’t know. Press it. They soon realize that the thing is called a brake, and that it could stop the car if only there weren’t so many clowns in it. The clowns ponder this. They ponder throwing each other out of the car, but the more bodies the car hits, the more time they have to ponder, so they agree to do something about their dilemma once they get a little further down the road.
That’s the state our governor and legislators yearly leave us in.