A Nation in Denial

“The budget pact, in concert with a must-pass increase in the federal borrowing limit, would solve the thorniest issues awaiting Ryan, R-Wis., who is set to be elected speaker on Thursday. It would also take budget showdowns and government shutdown fights off the table until after the 2016 presidential election, a potential boon to Republican candidates who might otherwise face uncomfortable questions about messes in the GOP-led Congress.” [Newsmax.com 10/26/15]

So the Republicans who enable President Obama will not have to be uncomfortable. Wow, that’s a relief. I surely would not want those Republicans in Washington to ever feel uncomfortable.

How proud George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine would be.

I find psychology immensely helpful in explaining the terrible state America’s budget and government are in.

The nation, on the whole, is in denial. People know that the national debt is $18 trillion and rising. But they don’t want to hear about it.

It took the country from 1776 to 1982 to hit $1 trillion dollars in debt. In ten more years, we got to $4 trillion. The vast majority of this debt (about $13 trillion of the $18 trillion) has accumulated since 2001, i.e during the last 14 years. So take your pick: George W. Bush or Barack Obama; the two greatest debt-producers in all of human history.

Ultimately, it’s the fault of the people, because we are still a democratic republic, more or less, and we still have choices.

If Republicans actually grew a spine and told President Obama, “We cannot raise the debt ceiling until we start cutting spending — trillions in spending, and not defense spending either,” it would create a crisis. Not for the economy or for people prepared to take care of themselves (or live off voluntary charity, if necessary); but for the government.

The majority of Americans (all Democrats, most Republicans and most Independents) would essentially respond by saying, “We don’t want to hear it.” They would stop supporting Republicans and we’d go back to business as usual.

Perhaps there’s nothing Republicans can do. The issue is deeper than politics. It has to do with reality.

You do not have to be an economist to know that this debt is unsustainable. It’s also public knowledge that much of the bankruptcy is created by the unsustainable Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.

If there were no negative economic consequences of having such a debt, then why even have an economy at all? If the government can inflate the currency and/or generate electronic currency into infinity, then why not simply put a million dollars into every American’s bank account immediately? And when they run out, replenish with another million.

Nobody expects this. Yet it’s the very same premise as expanding government spending and debt into infinity.

So Republicans get to be relieved that they don’t have to confront this fact. Then who will? Certainly not the Democrats. They spend and raise the debt into infinity, and label anyone racist who questions them, even for a moment.

It’s like a dysfunctional family. The Democrats are on a drinking binge the likes of which no alcoholic has ever seen. The Republicans apologize, make excuses, go along to get along, and then sigh with relief when they don’t have to face an uncomfortable confrontation — or, God forbid, be labeled as “mean” or (gasp) racist for questioning the unconscionable spending binge of the Democrats.

This is truly madness and dysfunction on a scale never before witnessed in human history, because there never has been a nation in human history like the United States.

America rose as no other civilization before it had ever risen, to levels of achievement, prosperity and human livability America’s own founders never dreamed possible.

It stands to reason that when a nation whose scope and importance is as high as America’s was, its fall will be just as spectacular — and tragic.

It need not be so, but so long as denial and enabling reign supreme in our nation’s capital, we’re like a high speed train heading towards a brick wall.

What will get us, in the end, is not ignorance, but rather a sheer and willful refusal to see that wall.

When the crash finally comes, as it will on our current course, do not scream, “Oh, my, how could this have happened?” And don’t blame the Republicans, either.

At a certain point, we have to blame ourselves, at least those of us most guilty of the denial and evasion.

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