Lemmings & Cliffs

For years we’ve heard the stories and maybe even played games about lemmings, the small rodent found near the artic.  The image many of us have is one of hundred/thousands of the little critters mindlessly throwing themselves off a cliff.  Recently I have been having visions of Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner running towards the precipice.  Hmmm.

If you’ve done your research and understand government economics, what we are facing is not really a cliff, but a slope or slight embankment.  We can easily go into January or even well into the first quarter and no real damage (to our country’s GDP) will occur.  Yes, the markets will go crazy and the pundits will start throwing rocks at the President and the Republican leadership for gamesmanship, but no long term damage will have occurred.  Yet, I’m afraid that there will be real long term damage from whatever “deal” gets cut either later this month or next year.

There is a fairly large part of our population and our Congressional representatives that believes that government’s role is to monitor, provide, legislate, and take care of the populous.  The problem we have is that no one agrees to what’s really important.  The folks who feel that we should be self-reliant and have no government interference still want their social security and farm subsidies.  The folks who believe that the government should take care of all the “poor and unfortunate” don’t realize or accept that the poor and unfortunate don’t come in a homogeneous box and can easily be assisted by government.  And all the money in the world won’t solve the problem.

The problem we have – and will continue to have for many years – is that we have too many in government, which includes the military, who have beliefs that are truly outdated in today’s society and world economics.  And this group think makes us much more lemming-like than I originally thought.

My research (albeit brief) indicates that there is a misconception about lemmings and cliffs.  The reality is that lemmings tend to overpopulate quickly (they’re rodents!) and thus need to migrate to find new homes – and quite frequently large bodies of water and/or cliffs become an obstacle, or in the case of lemmings, their doom.  Congress is not willing (nor voters) to accept that we face many complex issues that got us to this “cliff,” it’s easier to throw rocks at each other to gain political advantage and not deal with the real problems.  And like the lemmings, we’ll look for easy solutions (run away!) and end up in a future situation worse than what brought us here.  I’m not worried about today’s cliff – I’m worried about how our elected leaders will continue to kick our economic challenges down the road to future generations.

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