Technically, I plan on burning some midnight oil tonight but realistically I think I will blog, go to bed and just get up ridiculously early. I feel like I am surrounded by little piles of paper – there is the city, the poem about the painting, the poetry manuscript, a pile of notes on an article I have to whip out of my wazoo by tomorrow for Street Sights, another pile of notes and to-dos on the new thing I am involved with and an absolute stack of paperwork that I am behind in.
I am exhausted. Still have another two weeks of pushing things to get through and yet, am happy as a clam.
Particulary about the interview. In the midst of my everything I have been creeping through the city at night and finding and talking to homeless kids. These are kids that are not in shelters or part of DCYF or anything like that, it has been a heartbreaking and charged experience. One of the issues I had to contend with is what to do after I found a kid like that, I mean, you just can’t say “thanks for the story” and walk away. It has been a balance to switch from getting their story for an article to providing some on the spot crisis counseling to help them get help. Then came all the statistics and service interviews, the ones I thought I would do for the article I did but they all ended with “Hey, you should talk to so and so.” I have spent more time on the phone as I have been wandering around in the past two weeks then I have in two months.
But in the end, there is balance. Slowly there is balance.
The news has been captivating, for me at least, about Standard and Poor’s downgrading our rating to “Negative.” Its been sad/amusing to watch the dance going on with the politician’s to explain away what that means. S&P has not officially downgraded our AAA rating as a country (a good credit rating for loans from other countries) but has flagged our credit rating as having a negative outlook with an expectation that it will be downgraded in two years. This is something that the IMF and S&P have been saying was going to happen for the past year.
The latest politico dancing around the talkshows to diffuse this said something that I don’t even think he was aware of today, that the US’s credit rating was not affected because you would see it reflected in the daily borrowing arrangements that are being made.
I am not sure that many people are aware that on a daily basis we are having to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to even keep ourselves floating in the piss poor condition that we are currently in.
The IMF and S&P have been warning us for a year that we are (to borrow the German Chancellor’s words) “ignorant of the impact of our debt on other countries.” For over a year they have been warning that our credit rating would be downgraded because, as they watched our government go on, no realistic effort was being made to come up with a plan to resolve our debt crisis.
And it is true. Everytime we try to negotiate a plan and someone tacks some special interest caveat on it – we are not taking our debt seriously. Everytime we try to negotiate a plan and talk about serious cuts to spending while actively engaging in new military actions or in bailing out corporations that have mismanaged themselves – we are not taking our debt seriously.
Obama is hoping that Congress will approve raising the debt ceiling. What this means is that the limit that Congress allows us to get in debt will be raised from where it is now, sort of like parental permission to borrow money. The problem is, with no realistic solution as to how to pay back that debt we will lose our good credit rating and countries will be disinclined to loan money to us except at exceptionally high interest rates.
Right now, the only working budget plan we have as a nation is to borrow more money. Its like the payday loan cycle and the rest of the world is starting to think that we just don’t know how to manage our money and they will be dipped if they will be pulled down with us.
When I was fooling with the national budget simulators I did four things that balanced the budget and significantly reduced the debt within a projected years time: I froze the military at its current spending, I did away with the tax cuts for the rich, I froze the tax rate for the rest of the country and I changed the entry entitlement age for Social Security and Medicare to 67 (grandfathering, pardon the pun, people who were 55 years old now).
The entitlement programs are the biggest source of our problems. They were created in an age when the average life span was 65. No one who created that structure imagined that the benefits would be issued to a person for longer than 5 years. We never revisted these programs to look at the impact of our increasing lifespan on the ability to provide these benefits.
Nobody likes to look at it that way or talk about raising the age because it is a part of our culture that we expect to retire at 65 and begin our new lives. But the world has changed and we didn’t and now, we have some catching up to do.
c.2011 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.