Bowling Bawls

For an evening’s entertainment when my wife Nancy (aka m’Lady Gaga) was back in Iowa visiting with her sister’s family, they went down to the local bowling alley, taking their three-year-old Kristie.   Deciding to show her daughter how it was done, sister Kathy grabbed a ball in one hand, her daughter by the other, and stepped up to the foul line.  She placed the ball on the floor and was about to teach Kristie how to shove it down the lane when Kristie decided to take control.  Quickly rearing back, before anyone to stop her, she kicked the ball with all her might.  Kristie dropped to the floor, bawling in pain and surprise.  Apparently everyone else who saw it collapsed howling with laughter.  Only the ball was unmoved.

As a three-year-old, Kristie had obviously grasped the basic concept that a large ball could be rolled toward a goal of some sort.  She hadn’t, however, touched a bowling ball before and understood neither its heft nor the basic concept of inertia.  Adults in general are not expected to make this same mistake.  Adults like those folks we elect to serve in government.

When will Congress learn this same lesson?  Currently Washington is embroiled in a philosophical discussion dealing with the effects of their self-engineered “fiscal cliff.”  Simultaneously they are now confronting the debt ceiling issue.  Also self-imposed, this is a limit set on how much our nation should be allowed to borrow over and above our level of income.  For all the fuss surrounding the cliff, it seems to us that this ceiling is significantly more critical to America’s long-term viability.  Proposed solutions are generally accompanied by metaphor likening the issue to a “can that gets kicked down the road,” thereby postponing making any decisions which may prove unpopular.

This is a can that has been kicked down the road way too many times already; 74 to be exact.  We’re told the nation will be bankrupt within two months if it isn’t raised, possibly forcing us into default.  The U.S. is already in the hole by well over $14 trillion and the weight of servicing just the interest due grows heavier every day.  And this is at a time when interest rates are incredibly, abnormally low!  Imagine what will happen when (not if) rates begin to rise.  Unless this issue is resolved very soon, there will inevitably come a time when Congress discovers, much like Kristy did, that kicking such a weighty object will no longer work.  If we allow our representatives to continue adding to the heft of this burden, a moment will arrive when the next kick, no matter how strenuous, cripples us even as the debt continues to grow in place.