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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Welcome to Ted Cruz’s Thunderdome": Dystopia in 2084? How About 2038?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Welcome to Ted Cruz’s Thunderdome" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/opinion/sunday/dowd-welcome-to-ted-cruzs-thunderdome.html), Maureen Dowd paints a dystopic picture of Washington 70 years from now, destroyed by the shutdown. Drawing on imagery much akin to scenes from Will Smith's 2007 "I Am Legend," Dowd writes:

"The year is 2084, in the capital of the land formerly called North America.

The peeling columns of the Lincoln Memorial, and Abe’s majestic head, elegant hands and big feet are partially submerged in sludge. Animals that escaped from the National Zoo after zookeepers were furloughed seven decades ago migrated to the memorials, hunting for food left by tourists.

The white marble monuments are now covered in ash, Greek tragedy ruins overrun with weeds. Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager to chomp on humanity some more."

Describing a conversation between a "gaunt man" and a "sickly boy" concerning who was responsible for this tragedy, Dowd is quick to name the villain :

"The boy frowns. 'But Papa, didn’t the healthy Republicans realize the infected ones had lower brain functions?”

'Well, son, they knew there was something creepy about the ringleader, Ted Cruz,' the man replies. 'His face looked pinched, like a puzzle that had not been put together quite right. He was always launching into orations with a weird cadence and self-consciously throwing folksy phrases into his speeches, like ‘Let me tell ya,’ to make himself seem Texan, when he was really a Canadian.'"

Blame it all on Ted Cruz? Forgive me if I don't assign that much importance or significance to any one member of America's dysfunctional Congress.

As I have said in the past, I support universal health care, but I am also worried by America's national debt, which is now just a tad under $17 trillion, growing by the minute and unsustainable.

And as even Paul Krugman asked yesterday (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/10/paul-krugman-reform-turns-real-welcome.html) regarding Obamacare:

"What we still don’t know, and is crucial for the program’s longer-term success, is who will sign up. Will there be enough young, healthy enrollees to provide a favorable risk pool and keep premiums relatively low?"

Or stated otherwise: Are there enough healthy youngsters willing to pay more in order to subsidize the unfavorable risk pool, thereby preventing a fiscal disaster, i.e. Democratic Senator Max Baucus's "train wreck"?

Taken a step further, can payments from healthy youngsters ensure that Obamacare is fiscally neutral, i.e. a zero-sum game that does not contribute to massive rapid expansion of America's debt?
As posited by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office earlier this month with regard to America's financial future (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44521):

"Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing federal debt to soar. Federal debt held by the public is now about 73 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP). That percentage is higher than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II, and it is twice the percentage at the end of 2007. If current laws generally remained in place, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next several years, CBO projects. After that, however, growing deficits would ultimately push debt back above its current high level. CBO projects that federal debt held by the public would reach 100 percent of GDP in 2038, 25 years from now, even without accounting for the harmful effects that growing debt would have on the economy . . . . Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely."

Yes, unless government spending is brought under control, dystopia could come to the US some 50 years earlier than the time imagined by Dowd. But in order to bring that spending under control, people need to talk to one another, a skill that was lost in the beginning of the 21st Century, when narcissism infected the land.

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