All the debate over spending is starting to remind me of the movie Jaws. We have some people who believe there is this big threat headed our way, but the authorities all tell us not to panic — but instead of the mayor of Amity Island telling us the beaches are safe, President Obama is telling us we’ll grow our way out of this deficit.
Right now the Republicans and Democrats are hotly debating which of their two wholly inadequate plans we should use to avoid the fiscal cliff, but looking at the size of the deficit, they’re proposing different-sized Band-Aids where a tourniquet is needed. If you point this out, you’re called a Tea Party extremist who wants to throw old people off a cliff and deny underprivileged Ivy League law students free birth control. “You silly person. Budgets don’t have to balance. That’s just a superstition.”
Everyone is so used to politicians treating our tax dollars with less seriousness than the average person treats Monopoly money that they just don’t get why people are suddenly talking about the need for spending cuts. But this isn’t some idea invented by the Tea Party or Paul Ryan or the Koch brothers while sitting in their hollowed-out-volcano Koch Lair. They only mention cuts because they fear the one truly insisting on them: Math.
Politicians have long ignored Math. And it’s no wonder: Math is unelected, unsympathetic, and highly biased toward the rich and keeps demanding cuts to spending and changes to entitlements that are politically infeasible. In a nation filled with obese poor people, we’ve discovered a long list of things everyone should be entitled to besides food, clothing, and shelter — things people need, like subsidized hybrids — but heartless, uncompromising Math keeps looking at our revenue and telling us we can’t have all of that.
Thus Obama wants Math locked completely out of the fiscal cliff talks and instead wants unlimited power to raise the debt ceiling and then tax the rich because of the demands of Fairness — Fairness being the left’s favorite imaginary friend. Math won’t stop laughing at Obama’s plan to pay for everything by taxing the rich, so Obama just won’t work with it at all.
The Republicans at least acknowledge that Math exists but are only trying to compromise with it. We’re broke, and Obama wants to buy a Ferrari we can’t afford, and they’re trying to argue him down to a BMW we can’t afford. I guess they think if they make some changes to entitlements, Math will just relent and allow 2 + 2 to equal 5 so the rest will add up.
But Math can’t be ignored and won’t compromise. We can plead and cry all day about how much spending cuts will hurt those in need, but this will not move Math. It’s a remorseless adding machine, and it will eventually balance its numbers and doesn’t care what it will have to destroy in the process. But the politicians don’t believe this, and while Obama has so little concern about Math that he sometimes even taunts it (“Obamacare will reduce the deficit!”), some of us see what Math did to Greece and wonder when it’s coming for us. Thus we few ask for spending cuts, as they’re all that will save us. I know it’ll be hard to tell a five year old he won’t get the exact same Medicare coverage as his grandma — especially since he won’t understand what you’re talking about — but that’s the only way to turn Math’s wrath.
People don’t want to listen. But Math is coming. It’s $16 trillion in debt and growing, and one day it will rise out of the water, and even those ignoring it will finally be afraid and gasp, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
No, you idiots! Haven’t you been listening? We need a smaller boat. One we can actually afford.