October 20, 2013

582 words 3 mins read

How Cliches Can Scratch Your Back

When I was three, a cat jumped off the roof of a screened deck onto my back as I was walking up the stairs to the deck. The cat shredded my shirt and turned my back to hamburger.

I’ll get back to that.

You know this cliché:  “What goes up must come down.”

It’s true. Even satellites and space stations crash back to earth. And the long distance probes like Voyager will eventually crash into some planet or start.

What goes up comes down. And it breaks apart on re-entry.

Here’s another cliché: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

Also true. Most clichés are true. In fact, “cliché” means “undeniable truth.”

I just made that up. I have no idea.

But if a cliché were totally wrong, it would stop being a cliché. So clichés have some truth in them. Especially about things that go up come down.

With that law of reality in mind, look a this chart from the Federal Reserve:

US Government Debt

I was born in 1963. October 5, to be exact. John F. Kennedy was President and would remain so for another 48 days. US government debt was, more or less, zero.

The debt line rose a bit through 60s, a bit more through 70s, especially during the Carter years. It grew a lot in the 1980s and 1990s, though it took a bit of dive in the late 1990s. Probably because I got out of the Navy in December 1994.  I’ll take credit for that.

Then, after 9/11, debt skyrocketed. Until 2008.

In 2008, US government debt rose almost vertically. It went straight up. Straight up.

From 1955 to 2001, time moved faster than the debt moved up. Since 2001, debt moved up fast than time moved forward.

Since 2008, debt’s rocket so fast time seemed to stand still.

So did the US GDP.

When people like Ted Cruz talk for 20 hours, they’re not just talking about Obamacare. And they’re not advancing their careers.

They’re explaining clichés.

What goes up must come down.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Those clichés are true. I learned how true the were in 1967 when that white cat jumped off Spook and Bev Rustige’s covered deck onto my back. The cat fell about 20 feet. I still remember Bev rubbing alcohol on my back with a cotton ball. It burned like hell. My shirt was ruined. I was crying. Screaming.

Those clichés apply to people, countries, and economies. And white cats.

That vertical line won’t go horizontal. It’ll come back down.  At some point, it will fall swiftly back to meet the red line.

Not to be hyperbolic, but when that happens, people will die in big numbers. People will die of disease and starvation. They’ll die of violence because government will collapse.

When the blue line meets the red line, Harvard professors won’t survive–people with guns and food will.

That’s what Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were talking about. They didn’t use scary scenarios like people dying by the millions or white cats clawing the shit out of a 3-year-old’s back, but that’s what they were talking about.

No, we didn’t win the shutdown. But no one noticed the shutdown. It didn’t really affect anyone.

When the blue line crashes, everyone will shudder. And many will die.

And that’s why the Tea Party exists.

Read Quote of Jim Durbin’s answer to Tea Party (politics): What is it like to be a Tea Party Republican? on Quora