A Break from the Usual

I don’t typically get political, but this debt ceiling business has me heated… and so!

Let’s imagine that you’re in high school in a small town, and you have an older, spendthrift cousin. Some of his expenditures are good (he bought a car to take grandpa to his dialysis treatments), some of them are questionable (that car was a Lexus), and some of them are a bit shady (he uses said Lexus to make women think he’s rich). He does alright at making money, but he never seems to have quite enough, and he’s always everyone he knows up for money, even you. And usually people are willing to give him a few bucks because he pretty much always pays them back at some point.

Eventually you might get a point where you say, “hey man, enough is enough. I’m not going to lend you any more money to pay off some other creditor any more. If you go broke it’s on you and you should be responsible for your own decisions.”
And that’d be fine. Your cousin probably does need to learn a lesson, and if his credit goes to hell, well, that’s on him.

Now imagine that the spendthrift is your father. He’s always running from creditor to creditor, trying every idea he can think of (idealistic, shady, or just deluded) to make just a little bit more money so he can pay down the money he owes. He always stumps up in the end, but you and most everyone else is getting uneasy about how much he owes. You might realize from your earliest days that dad needs to spend less money, that he needs to spend it more wisely, that he needs to tighten the belt and treat himself and the family a little less often, but no one seems to listen to you. Not only that, but his web of loans and counterloans actually does manage to keep the ship from leaking too badly; you get to the doctor when you need it, you don’t have to drop out of high school to get a job to make ends meet for the family, and so on.

So what should you do? Should you try to teach him the same lesson you’d teach your cousin? Sabotage his attempts to extend his credit a bit more and cause the whole shebang to collapse? Sure you’d get to wag your finger and say, “this is what happens when you aren’t responsible!,” but you’d also be fucking yourself over. The next time you went to the bank they might think, “this poor bastard seems alright, but he’s X’s son. Can’t risk throwing that much money into that sinkhole of a family,” before they say, “I’m sorry, but credit is pretty tight these days, and we can’t get you the money with such a small down payment.” Or that technical school might think, “you know we woulda given this kid a chance—he’s pretty smart—but pops stiffed the bank on his last loan… better not take the chance,” before saying to you, “Sorry, but we can’t take the risk that you’ll be able to afford our tuition. Sorry!” You get the idea.

I don’t much know what I’d do if I were the son of a spendthrift (it is always hard to take the reins from your forebears when they get older and are perhaps less able to make good decisions), but I’m pretty sure throwing the family into default would be a disaster. So if Ted Cruz and his moron cohorts want to live in a fantasy world where the US defaulting on its debts somehow won’t affect their own well being, please someone, just let Texas secede and sink their own goddamn boat without taking me with them.

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