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Have you ever felt “The Force”? I have: three times. And there’s nothing spooky or Star-Wars-y or spiritual about it. I define “The Force” as a vital point so emphatically impressed upon you as to become indelible in every milli-smidgen of your DNA.
The first time was in basic training. The Army did a lot of talking, lecturing, preaching, but for the only lesson they absolutely HAD to get across to us – never stand behind a firing bazooka – they didn’t say a word. It was like a silent movie. We were seated on bleachers out in the field. The sergeant hung a wooden crate from the limb of a lonely tree. Then he placed the bazooka on the shoulder of the kneeling corporal who angled the weapon so that the crate was dangling directly behind it, where the Army never wanted any of us to stray. When the corporal fired, the wooden crate became 10 million toothpicks. Forceful! Nobody ever walked behind a bazooka.
Once in Baltimore I pulled my car into an alley. My brakes failed. My foot went effortlessly all the way to the floorboard, and the car was flooded with the aroma of brake fluid. I hit a stone wall at 15 miles-per-hour. Who among us has any respect for 15 miles-per-hour? Mine is likely the only hand raised. Hint to do-gooders with spare time: Find a way to deliver the jolt of hitting a wall at that absurdly “nothing” of a speed to all new license applicants and you’ll save a lot of lives. That’s 15 mph against a stationary wall; not another car smacking you head-on doing 65.
Now we get down to the burlap. The late Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois gets a lot of credit for quipping, “A billion here. A billion there. Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” I deny that remark put Congress-people on notice as to how much a billion really is. In fact, I think it was harmful. It made everybody feel clued in, but the true message of a “billion” slithered away.
I mentioned the term “billion” over lunch one day and my older, wiser friend said, “A billion seconds ago was 1959. (That’s dated now, but a second is not a long time and the lunch was in 1990!) A billion minutes ago Christ was alive. A billion hours ago our ancestors were in the Stone Age. And a billion days ago no creature walked the earth on two legs.”
Do we now dare try to conceive of a TRILLION? If you started the day Jesus Christ was born and spent a million dollars a day since then, you would still not yet have spent a trillion dollars. Put differently, if you were to pay off a debt of a trillion dollars at a dollar a second, it would take 32,000 years. And America owes 14 of them!
An early and earnest enemy of the drug scourge told me, “Two kinds of addicts come to me for help: those who want to quit and those who want to want to quit.” Lawmakers are worse. Some want to cut the debt, but those who don’t never seem to suffer any pangs of “wanting to want”! What would a talking rat say when he’s trapped? I’m not calling all lawmakers rats, but I wonder what those who aren’t serious about cutting would say for themselves if asked, “How do you see America paying down its debt?” Upon reflection, maybe “rat” is too kind an insult to an elected official who understands the catastrophic consequences of our debt and is still willing to point the bony finger of indignation at the serious cutters and call them “heartless.” What is his solution? “Taxing the rich” is trying to fill the swimming pool with an eyedropper.
Is anybody else fighting the urge to grab our liberal, compassionate spenders in Congress by the collar and twist and say, “You’re an elected official. How dare you think of yourself and your re-election and your party or anything other than the dire oncoming fate of this great nation? If you were to pay off America’s debt a dollar a second it would take almost half a million years! How dare you call the tea party heartless! What is YOUR answer? WHAT WILL YOU CUT AND HOW DEEPLY WILL YOU CUT IT RIGHT NOW?”
I say, don’t raise the debt ceiling. Lock those brilliant bastards in a room and let them figure out a way to avoid loan default. And if they can’t, do what honest people have always done. Face our creditors, apologize and explain how our “new” budget will make us whole again. Over-simplified, you say? How well are the over-complicators doing?
Nobody authorized me to channel the spirit of Everett Dirksen, but somehow I feel he’d be delighted to have his famous quote turned inside-out; namely, “Cut a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real savings!”
We did tougher at Iwo and Normandy when all the red was blood, and not just ink.
The Republicans in Congress have the budgetary “nuclear” option at their disposal! Let them know you expect them to use it by sending a message to all 241 GOP House members via the “No More Red Ink” campaign.