Patchwork

Momentous issues are thrusting themselves upon the world’s economies these days.  Here in the United States a bi-polar Congress argues the merits of fiscal discipline versus a social safety net for the unemployed and aging.  In Europe the discussion surrounds the very survivability of their common currency, the Euro.  In both instances, events conspire to draw the respective governing bodies into heated debates which continue up to but just short of a point of failure.  Repeatedly, at the edge of the abyss, a compromise is reached which extends the argument to a future date rather than actually accomplishing any satisfactory resolution.

It’s as if various factions are attending a quilting bee, each with their own colors and patterns in mind, trying to stitch something together.  Unfortunately it appears neither side knows how to sew very well.  Each stitch gets added at the last moment with a haphazard result; something allows the pieces to be held together for a bit longer but always there seems to be the danger that everything is set to unravel.

Competing agendas make for a crazy quilt, or perhaps a cloak of many colors which fits no one very well.  Brinksmanship leads to a series of unsatisfactory stitches added over time in quick bursts of ineffectual compromise.  Better seamstresses have been hired, the Volker Commission or the Simpson-Bowles Commission come to mind.  But the political players insist on using their own needle and thread to placate interest groups instead of applying a truly bipartisan and ultimately crucial solution.

I always wondered why Dr. Frankenstein wasn’t more careful with his own creation.  As depicted by Boris Karloff, the monster was an ugly pastiche of amateurish stitch marks holding his head on and brain in.  The good doctor should have hired a better seamstress and let the work be done properly.  The same thing applies to both the European Union and our own Congress.  If they keep adding stitches one at a time like they have been, the result may prove to be something big, ugly, and monstrously out of control.