The phone company is doing it all wrong: The Washington, DC area gets a new area code (771), and instead of pushing back complaints that the new lines don’t get the traditional 202, they should charge more for the. new one.
This way the client can avoid being associated with Washington, the seat of the national government. Is it any wonder that there is no argument when the District of Columbia is called “the swamp,” where progress will die in a quagmire of corruption, incompetence and bureaucracy?
Once again, we were faced with the threat of this very government shutting down – well, not shutting down completely, rather partially. Essential services will continue, such as military and federal law enforcement, etc., and vital financial services will continue.
But non-essential services – and that includes most of them – will expire by law, because Congress cannot pull itself together. We will put off a discussion of why much of the nation’s business is “non-essential”; it’s for another day.
But a government shutdown means that the poor schlub who is “essential” has to work but not get paid right away, while Mr. and Mrs. Unssential don’t work but will end up getting paid, but not right away. That’s a huge amount of hassle for nothing, and expensive, too.
But that’s not the worst. There is this little thing called the debt limit, or debt ceiling. And we have already pierced it, but not really. Our money people write a little kite check. In addition to taxes, the federal government actually feeds on borrowed money; Think of it as something similar to a Ponzi scheme.
Over time, it peaked at $ 22 trillion. Now we need authorization to take out more loans. Hence the raising of the debt ceiling. If the United States defaults – and we will in the next two weeks after the financial crooks move all funds and all financial tricks have been exhausted – we will face calamity.
At this point, the United States of America will have defaulted on its sovereign debt for the first time in history. Believe me, it will be ugly. But now it’s in the hands of politicians, which means the worst chicken game imaginable. We are playing with disaster.
Chicken Cruz, Chicken McConnell and, yes, Chicken Biden are playing with our future. Unless they come to an agreement to raise or suspend the debt ceiling – which means the sky’s the limit – we’re like a car loan that goes default. But unlike a car loan, the repo man cannot tow a government. But it might be more difficult to get credit at such low rates.
In fact, treasury bills would be reduced to junk bonds because they would be much more expensive to buy. This increase, in turn, will drive up the cost of credit to finance most of what we buy privately. This means that inflation is going to be rampant, because our farmers, for example, are borrowing to finance the machinery they need to grow food crops.
Which will be fine, because we won’t have a kitchen, which is part of the house that is defaulting on its mortgage. Obviously, the potential for disaster is such that one side or the other has to blink. Either side must successfully call the other’s bluff. And they have, so far. But you only have one chance in the apocalypse game.
But it’s a stupid way of doing business. And it’s stupid to brag about doing business that way. If you think about it, that’s what an area code is: the right to brag. Why would anyone want to brag about 202? Especially since it lacks numbers, a form of obsolescence. Or maybe we can go back to a neighborhood identified by words that preceded the numbers, like Pennsylvania 6-5,000 in New York City.
In Washington, you could call a direct line on K-Street, where all lobbyists have offices, by dialing “Greedy” then a number, or one in the Capitol like “Corrupt” and a number. Or, if we insist on sticking with the area codes, bring 771.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN. (c) 2021 Bob Franken distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.