October 08, 2013

The Default Lies Not in Our Stars, But in Ourselves

Further proof that This Shit Writes Itself. 

I am genuinely agnostic about the prospect of a default by the Treasury on its humongous debt obligations. I see the whole controversy as ranting and raving about the ultimate zero sum game.  What's the difference, when you come right down to it?  The worst that could happen is that all these incredibly annoying people in Congress would become unemployed, Chris Matthews could wipe the spittle from the corners of his mouth one last time, Bill O'Reilly could stop writing memos to himself, and that would be that.  All of the states have governments. They could take over.

And just because it's such a tantalizing and attractive idea, you know it will never happen.

Now, I should point out that the Treasury's position is out of control for self-inflicted reasons.  The budget could be brought into balance almost immediately by eliminating 75% of the military-industrial complex (reducing its drain from $1 trillion per year to $250 billion, and emphasizing the nuclear umbrella, which is all we really need to deter aggression against us), but the politicians in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, cannot do that without giving up their hobby of playing war all year long, year in, year out.  If they throw down their guns, American citizens will begin to notice that all Washington, D.C. really does is recycle money through two elaborate insurance schemes, Social Security and Medicare, and both of those functions could be outsourced to call centers in Bangalore, India.  Plus our Customer Representatives in India could, while we're on the line, reboot our internet connection and tell us how to program the DVR.  Try that with Ted Cruz.

Beyond the military, state governments would be perfectly competent to handle what little else the federal government does (for example, let the states run the wildernesses known as the national parks).   We don't need a federal government.

 Congress can't eliminate the military without losing a major source of baksheesh from defense contractors, not to mention their raison d'etre (attacking foreign countries), and if they try to eliminate Social Security they're up against this:

"For nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of their cash income. For more than one-third (36 percent), it provides more than 90 percent of their income. For one-quarter (24 percent) of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security is the sole source of retirement income.[21] (See figure below.)" Center on Budget  and Policy Priorities.

Crunch the math on the above sad situation for a moment.  If the average Social Security old age benefit is $1,200 per month, which it is, then in general for two-thirds of the elderly, $1,200 represents, on average, most of their income, meaning that total income is less than $2,400 per month. If the federal government suddenly removes more than half of this amount from a huge number of elderly retirees (about 40 million people), then Congress will plunge this cohort of habitual voters into deep poverty.  The following day, a Million Walker & Wheelchair March would descend on the Capitol Dome, and Republican chances in the fall of 2014 would go into the toilet.

So the Congressional clowns aren't really going to do anything like that.  The Republican morons have made a lot of noise about Obamacare, but that's for The Base.  They know Obama cannot back down on that, his only accomplishment as President.  But he will back down on something else, probably food stamps, and that will be the next trophy on John Boehner's wall, displayed proudly next to the Sequester and the repeal of the FICA tax break, all without mothballing a single aircraft carrier or cancelling a single war.

Nor can the Republicans allow a default.  Manufacturing dollar bills is this country's main industry and our chief export.  Congress cannot play games with this money machine (quite literally).  It's all over if we do, because we have nothing else other than bombs and Frankenstein food to sell. 

Relax and enjoy the circus.  Oh look!  Ted Cruz is going to run all the way across the ring and jump onto the back of that white horse with a chihuahua for a jockey!