My speculative-fiction novel FLASHBACK, with its dystopian future of a debt-broken and politically/socially unraveled near future (2032) America, was based precisely on pursuing fictional premises to the aftermath of nations eagerly amassing unrepayable nation-breaking mountains of debt both here and in Europe.Mercifully, Dan Simmons spares us any more "Oh ands." (I think it's because he couldn't think of any more.)
The specific details of how and when the economic American "Big Crunch" occurred -- sometime in the 2010-2020 decade -- weren't spelled out in the novel. They're being spelled out right now in Obama's and the Democrats' eagerness to go over the 'fiscal cliff" and even permit that Frankenstein-monster-assembled obscenity, Sequestration, to occur so that, in Charles Krauthammer's phrasing, the Democrats can drive a stake through the GOP once and for all. Oh, and end Senate rules protecting the minority, the long tradition of filibuster, while you're at it. Oh, and turn vital government departments such as the Department of Justice and the EPA into political extensions of an Administration's grab for power and "fundamental change". Oh, and tax the national economy first into permanent doldrums and then into a sudden death spiral. Oh, and give the narrowly reelected american president Morsi-like excecutive powers of self-decree and extra-constitutional budget powers while you're at it. Oh, and . . .
The funny thing --aside from the fact that Simmons thinks he's a seer instead of a storyteller-- is that it's the fiscal cliff that's going to kill us? And quoting Charles Krauthammer approvingly?
If that's where he's getting his information from, it's no wonder it's all garbage. Garbage in, garbage out.
Here's the thing about the "fiscal cliff." This is what it means: The Bush tax cuts expire, which they were designed to do when they were passed ten years ago, and with no budget deal or tax reform, already-agreed-to cuts will commence.
And despite the attempts to pin this on the Democrats, it should be said that this is exactly the scenario that Republicans wanted.
When they passed the Bush tax cuts, they knew they would expire in ten years time. Reasonable people asked why we should cut taxes in war time (and at the time, we hadn't yet invaded Iraq) but they were ignored. The Republicans said "So what?" to war-funding and promised cutting rich people's taxes would bring us all economic prosperity, and that sunset provision? Don't worry about it. We Republicans will be a permanent majority in 2012, so we'll just renew them.
(And how's that working out for you? For us?)
Turn out fighting unfunded wars is a good way to go broke. That we cut rich people's taxes and, within a few years, were in a Great Recession. And the permanent majority? They lost the presidency and the Senate last month. It's not even a majority at all.
Mad about "Frankenstein-monster-assembled obscenity, Sequestration?" Hey, I hear that. Unfortunately, the only way to get Republicans to agree to raising the debt ceiling last round was automatic austerity measures if debt talks failed.
It was an election year. Surprise, surprise. Debt talks failed. Republicans and Democrats refused to negotiate (both sides!) and instead held out hope that their guy would win, knowing the election outcome would dictate the policy direction.
It should go without saying that the Republicans did not win the election.
So what we have here is a Republican-designed trap that snared everybody, including the Republicans themselves. If the Bush tax cuts were such a great idea, why not make them permanent? If sequestration was such a bad deal, why demand it as a condition in negotiations on raising the debt ceiling?
It almost like Republicans intentionally do stupid shit that they can then blame on Democrats.
And hey, that's cute and all...but it hasn't really been working out, has it? They're not winning elections and their policies are not being enacted. All that's left at that point, I guess, is to retreat into fantasy, which Simmons has done with remarkable swiftness.