‘Foie Gras Session’ Ignores Debt

Susan Page
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Wednesday - December 29, 2010
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It’s year’s end and once again, I’m shaking my head at why, with 11 whole months to get ready for the holidays, it always comes down to mad mall dashes, midnight wrap fests and bleary-eyed envelope stuffing - not to mention the FEDEX truck, my “white horse,” dashing up the driveway to save me from my own procrastination.

As I look to 2011, it’s again clear that this is no way to operate. Procrastination ends up costing more. It forces the proverbial fighter pilot’s “last ditch maneuver” under fire and going down: Take whatever the store has left, have Christmas cards arrive in January, pay extra for shipping and pile up the stress.

Procrastination is bad enough when it’s me and shopping. It’s my own kuleana. My bad, as the kids say. But, thankfully, I do have the money to cover the bills and, in fact, some companies are better off for my poor planning.

It’s yet another thing when it’s the U.S. Congress.

Procrastination by this Congress (or worse, procrastination by design) meant the United States went without a budget - due in October - until the 11th hour, until Congress members had no time to study it or, most importantly, run it past us citizens, forcing a vote on a last-minute, costly, unfunded sham.

Instead of “Lame Duck,” the disastrous congressional session just ending should be renamed the “Foie Gras Session” after the disgusting French method of force-feeding ducks large amounts of fat-filled corn so culinary sophisticates can dine on bloated livers. The poor bloated duck is the last-minute U.S. budget, force-fed so much fat that it keels over, liverless, penniless and thrown into the pile of budgets of other duck countries too fat to survive.

If you’ve yet to visit the web-site http://www.usdebtclock.org, by all means go there to see the constantly revising, up-to-the-millisecond disaster in the making. It should be required viewing.

(Forewarning: If you are among the approximately 45 percent of adults who actually do pay income taxes, wear a helmet of some kind because your brains will explode.)

If the debt clock, this horrifying piece of digital brilliance, doesn’t shock you out of procrastination in the new year, then check your pulse: You may be dead. The time for Superman has expired. The kryptonite (aka special interests) is already in the Kool-Aid and our “representatives” are drunk on it. Jan. 1, 2011, every single American citizen needs to awaken from our entitlement daze and don our own capes. Believe me, no one under the Capitol dome loves that grandbaby sitting on your lap enough to save him as you do.

It’s not a theory. The debt clock and the debt is real.

Political parties looking for votes and constituencies thrive on distracting us with feel good issues like last-minute, under-debated $4 billion entitlements for ground zero workers or ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But the Titanic is sinking, they’re in the lifeboats and our children’s futures are sliding down the ship’s deck into a frozen sea of foreign creditors. And the band of spending plays on: $4 billion here, $6 billion there, $1 trillion ... oh well, tra la, tra la.

I love a cheery New Year’s message. It’s been my hallmark. But I’ve sobered from the fog of U.S. financial procrastination. Cycles of economic euphoria that felt like eternal free shipping, such as the ‘90s dot-com boom, have come and busted. All the while, patient, diligent, plan-ahead China has been building an economic Goliath out of U.S. trade bricks, not straw. Yes, China’s a Communist dictatorship, but it holds our debt ($264 billion and climbing), so what does that make us? While Americans fixate on the Kardashians’ pedi-cures and Congress dreams of ethanol, China builds manufacturing plants the size of Lake Michigan and the rest of the world drills for oil.

The good news is - if you haven’t jumped yet - that each new year offers us opportunities to change course. Can we turn our economic ship before it hits the iceberg and completely sinks? I have hope. But the 2011 mantra is that course correction is our citizen responsibility, not that of those in Washington or Washington Place. They’re our voice, not the reverse. Only in a void of citizen input, many (in either party) will fill that void with the same self-serving ideas that led us into a future-generations-sinking abyss.

It’s a brand new day. May we all “plan ahead” for how we’ll spend it, or better yet, save it.

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