It's easy to be distracted from what's going on in Washington right now. In fact, it's probably preferable to be distracted from it. It seems almost impossible to wrap your head around the likelihood that the United States government is about to potentially be plunged into the economic dark ages, all because a few shrieking idiots will do anything -- literally anything, it seems -- to be able to hang a political cataclysm around the neck of Barack Obama. It's suicide, and yet the Tea Party Republicans can see it only in glowing terms: government is utterly crippled and a president they despise with unimaginable ferocity is in a position to possibly be impeached; they can accomplish through insidiously underhanded and destructive means what they couldn't accomplish twice at the polls. You could call it a Pyrrhic victory except that the Tea Party doesn't consider it to be Pyrrhic at all and its members probably have no idea what the hell the word means.
While it's true that no one knows for sure what a default would look like, most economists predict that the result could be globally catastrophic. What's worth keeping in mind, though, is that the reason no one knows what a default looks like is that never before has anyone in government been foolhardy enough to find out. Considering that we just came out of a deep recession that devastated millions across the country and have only recently seen the economy regain a very sure footing, it borders on unfathomable that a political party would be so reckless, so irresponsible, and so flat-out insane as to risk putting us back there again or in a place even worse. And yet here we are.
Over at the Huffington Post right now, on the font page, is an entertaining little diversion that's both funny and terrifying. It's a piece written by Jason Linkins, Sam Stein, and Zach Carter called "A Survival Guide To The Debt Ceiling Default Apocalypse." While it's certainly got its tongue firmly in its cheek and it comes off like a funhouse mirror parody of the kind of thing you'd see on a preppers website, it's tough to argue that it amounts to an attempt to laugh in the face of the Grim Reaper. Among its suggestions: learn how to make a fire quickly, buy survival seeds as well as fake survival seeds you'll need to trick the guy who's sure to rob you for your seeds, "Befriend Liam Neeson," and, most importantly, embrace the terror:
Panic is inevitable, so just get on with it as quickly as possible. Let it wash over you. Cleanse yourself in its heat. Let the panic burn away all thoughts of the luxuries you once savored as a member of 21st century human civilization. Allow the fear to clarify things for you. Allow yourself to be reborn, as a person capable of things you wouldn’t have ordinarily thought yourself to be capable of. Bloody things. Once past your now outdated moral and ethical considerations, you are ready to begin.
Funny stuff, but for some reason I just can't laugh this one off. Again, we have no idea what's really going to happen if something isn't done to stop this runaway train within the next 36-hours. And I have to admit that I'm scared as hell at the possibility of returning to the place I was -- where many of us were -- five years ago. It took months and months and months for me to get past the damage that was done to our economy, to get back to a place where I had steady work and didn't live in a state of constant fear over where my next paycheck was going to come from. I'm not saying this to make any of it about me personally, only to make it clear that the outcome of this disaster will be that very real people are negatively impacted, all of us who get up every morning and work hellaciously long hours often to barely keep head above water. A U.S. default would likely be the kind of example of trickle-down economics that fuels nightmares, with the people toward the bottom being crushed under the weight of all those above them.
There's no other way to say it: this thing has the potential to be very, very bad. In fact, it already is.
Anybody dealing with it better than I am?