What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Today we take a short look at four subjects very much in the headlines these days. Some connect to each other in obvious ways, others are more stand-alone. All have our attention of late.
This one is actually a good mix of financial matters and politics – the national debt. This is being written about five days before you read it, as I will be on travel for several days, so it is possible the logjam on the debt will break before you read this. I would be delighted if this segment of today’s blog was out of date and the problem resolved. I would also be surprised.
Although it seems unimaginable, it is not unlikely that the US will default on its debt for the first time in its history. Interestingly, the odd requirement we set up to agree each year that we will pay the bills we have already incurred was something set up, post-Civil War, to ensure foreign creditors that the US would honor its debt.
No one imagined we would someday have legislators who used this requirement in ways that accomplished the opposite, holding the USG hostage over honoring our debts.
The Democrats are looking at a couple of options to bypass the Republican roadblock, one a parliamentary procedure forcing a vote at the last minute, and one constitutional, with the President citing the very specific language in the constitution that our debts will be honored. Both approaches would require a small number of Republican voters and all the Democrats. Doable? Maybe.
The parliamentary gambit would likely generate less legal backlash, but it is hard to imagine getting enough votes. McCarthy will be no help. He knows that if he compromises in anyway, his extremists will force a vote for his expulsion as speaker.
Higher risk, but I like the constitutional play by the President. It could end this annual dance once and for all. A third proposal, making a trillion-dollar coin and using it to cover the debt, sounds specious to say the least.
Most people have little understanding of just how bad the domestic and global ramifications of a default would be. It would be a gift to our enemies and a wound on our country. Let’s hope we are smart enough to not walk the plank.
A couple of really interesting trends are shaping up that will be important for 2024.
First, it is a LONG way until election day, and some distance until the primary season, but at least for now, DeSantis is fading (told you so), and Trump looks increasingly likely to be the nominee (just amazing). Still hoping all his legal issues derail Trump and he runs as an independent, but time will tell.
Second, Republican politicians especially at the state level and driving hard with exceptionally extreme and unpopular decisions (abortion, book banning, gun controls, more gerrymandering). Poll after poll show the vast majority of the country really hates this stuff. Young voters are increasingly incensed and activated.
All this could – could – mean a Democratic rout in 2024 at the national level and to some extent at the state and local level. As the horror stories grow of increased deaths due to abortion restrictions, more than one mass shooting a day endlessly, and other such events, turn out by those who would really prefer a democracy could be impressive.
The tide is less likely to break at state levels due to the levels of gerrymandering that courts are not dealing with strictly enough nor quickly enough. But nationally – the game is on.
Electronics – Two Items of Note
It hard to believe that the World Wide Web just had its 30th birthday. Seems to have been with us forever. For all the terrible problems the internet brings, the WWW was truly a gift that changed the world in many good ways.
Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, who led the creation of the WWW, then turned the code over to the world for free. Nice guy (he actually is a nice, thoughtful guy).
Speaking of electronic media, Hollywood’s writers are on strike. Seem to have a good case that they are generally being screwed in the new era of how the entertainment area operates.
It will be interesting to see how long the strike goes, what the effects will be, and what the outcome will be. In a few years, AI may be doing much of the writing.
All this entertainment stuff reminds me of a conversation we have often in our home about what makes a winning tv series. My wife and I generally like quite different programming, but we pretty much agree on what makes great tv.
We appreciate great writing, an ensemble cast full of people you like or identify with (vs a star-based program), and good pacing for drama or comedy. Not all that many programs hit that whole checklist. You have any favorites to call out?
The Supremes? Not so much supreme these days. Nina Totenberg, who is as good an observer of the court I could imagine, says the constant flood of ethical disclosures and political bias on the Supreme Court is reaching a tipping point.
Should this not get addressed, the Court is lost from Americans’ respect and trust for a generation. I think she is right.
It’s clear the current Court will not heal itself. If that landslide I talked about for 2024 comes about, this should be high on the list of structural fixes that we very much need.
Making the court right (including our earlier discussions on term limits, etc.) is badly needed and fixing it by legislation need not be a problem of one branch of government interfering with another.
The Court had ample opportunity to get this right and it has failed miserably. Now no one would trust an in-house repair. Maybe Roberts could take a leadership course during the recess. Couldn’t hurt.
See You Next Week
If conditions allow, we will run Part II of What Makes You Happy. Thanks for the good feedback on Part I. I like your lists!
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