Tonawanda News

October 4, 2013

The view from the edge of the cliff

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Like Picasso and Mozart, the basketball player Michael Jordan, in his prime, performed his art on a level beyond that of his contemporaries. On his chosen stage, limited by the dimensions of the court, he was an undisputed master, and some people attended his games simply so they could tell their grandchildren they saw the great Jordan at work.

Most tellingly to me, a guy who considers sport a performing art, Jordan — like Broadway theater stars, Wayne Gretzky and Nobel laureates — always respected the game, to the point of kneeling and kissing the court on the night of his last performance (all right, his first last performance).

Is there a lot of respect for the game, the process of great work, these days? Athletes? Financial counselors? Pop stars? Members of Congress?

A survey by Public Policy Polling, earlier this year, noted the U.S. Congress has a favorability rating of 9 percent, with 85 percent of respondents viewing it in a negative light. It is less popular than colonoscopies, root canal, head lice, Genghis Khan, France or being stuck in traffic (but ahead of Fidel Castro, North Korea and meth labs).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn once condemned a lot of stuff actuated by his former homeland, the country that kicked him out, the Soviet Union — for what, he asked. Ideology. Just ideology, an adherence to something called Communism.

The buffoons of the U.S. Congress are acting with a similar mindset, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out why. Bringing down President Obama? Scrapping a single piece of legislation passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the executive branch, approved by the Supreme Court and the court of public opinion (Obama vs. Romney, 2012), and growing increasingly popular every day?

Picking a fight they thought they’d win, by rigging an assortment of rules, then attempting to hold the government for ransom?

No respect for the game.

Contrary to what you may have heard, Obamacare does not provide health care to millions of Americans who lack it. It provides the opportunity to purchase affordable care by those who lack it. You’d think someone like Rachel Maddow would point that out.

It’s a new retail market, a business worth entering, and Republicans being the way they are, you’d think some of their energy could be spent on figuring out how to profit from it.

Kids, this week’s wailing and whining will be nothing compared to about three weeks from now, when the “full faith and credit” of the American dollar, the generally accepted idea that the U.S. government will never default on its loan obligations, potentially goes out the window. 

Everything you remember about “the greatest country on earth,” the most stable currency and that feeling the Yankee dollar is the only thing you can trust, that rock-solid foundation other countries always lack, is about to slide into history, and it won’t be pretty.

And here is why it won’t happen. A force I never thought I’d be rooting for, Wall Street, will remind Republicans and their fat-cat enablers that all that dough they’ve been using to prop up their white-bread conservative ways is about to lose its luster. These people own a lot of things I don’t, including Treasury bills (about to be known as “formerly the safest investment in the world”) and other government promises to pay. When the government no longer can deliver on its promises, where are we? More to the point, where are they?

To mix a metaphor I once heard, the dominoes will fall like a house of cards, and it will be checkmate. 

Increase the debt ceiling, which sounds like an unusual expenditure but actually is not (it pays for debts already incurred, and it has been raised several dozen times since 1917). Stop treating every debate in Congress as an opportunity for personal gain, which could be defined as a loss for someone else; you clowns are not in the business of winning or losing, you’re in the business of making legislation, at least until election day, but your gerrymandered districts almost guarantee you’ll be back. Rational Republicans, if any remain, make contingency plans to parachute into a newly formed party and watch the fringe group you allowed to co-opt your honorable-since-1854 party wither away.

And respect the game. You’re legislating, not crapshooting with mortgage money.

That potential crash I described likely will not happen, but I’m somehow betting on the sanity of members of Congress here. If it does, remember where you read it first.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.