#404 – Dick Bernard: Day 17 of the Minnesota Shutdown; 16 Days till U.S. goes into Default. A crucial week ahead.

On an ordinary week I get a lot of e-mails, from all ‘sides’. This is my choice. I want to know what’s going on. It’s simple to scan and delete.
Everybody has an opinion. The Obama haters are ramping up their hatred of the President of the United States; Many Minnesotans are second-guessing the elements of the tentative agreement to settle what I call the “strike” the Minnesota Legislature elected to force when they ended their regular legislative session in late May, as required by Statute, without coming to an agreement that the Governor could sign.
At the national level, it is clear, now, that the heavy-hitters who control the money (and in many ways, the government) are now very worried that a default on our debt is possible, and that it will be catastrophic if it happens. But the loose cannons, particularly Freshman radicals in Congress, have set their feet in cement, which is rapidly hardening. “No way”, they say.
This is a critical week ahead.
Rhetoric has to meet Reality or we’ll all be in deep trouble.
There’s still plenty of fantasy.
On one side are the citizen populists from the Party of Tea who govern like they’re sitting in the local coffee shops (men) or wherever women gather for similar conversations. These are gatherings of friends. There are seldom arguments of substance. We all sit in these gatherings at one time or another. You know how shallow these can be. Add substance or disagreement to the conversation, and you’re out of the group.
A guy I see quite frequently at my own hangout, where I’ll be shortly, joked a few days ago that the shutdown is just fine: there’s no need for government, really. (He also joked, at least at the beginning, about the horrendous oil spill in the Gulf a year or two ago.)
I know him well enough to know that he should know better. But his apparent hatred of government and reverence for the pre-eminence of business apparently clouds his common sense.
I gently called him on his comment. He didn’t like it….
On the other side – my side, the side I have most natural affinity towards – people are blasting Obama as a sellout; and our Governor Dayton as violating his campaign promises, insisting on their own pet top priorities as essential to any settlement.
Get over it.
Ancient legend is that Roman Emperor Nero fiddled as Rome burned.
Whether the history is accurate or not, the analogy is apt for us. Too many of “we, the people” have done and are doing the exact same thing, now, and our own ’empire’ is at grave risk of collapse.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand” said Abraham Lincoln, famously, on June 16, 1858.
Lincoln’s issue was the danger of division over the slavery issue. He lost his election to the U.S. Senate that year, and came back to be elected as President in 1860.
We have elected our “house divided”, and it is, really, a reflection of each and every one of us. We have brought this mess upon ourselves. We are a bunch of individuals with our own non-negotiable priorities, where even the thought of compromise is reprehensible.
In Minnesota, the necessary compromise was apparently reached this past weekend (I’ll know more in a few minutes when I read the paper), and there will be a short special session this week to get a deal finally done.
In Washington, it’s not so certain. I only hope that the cement under the Republicans feet has not hardened to the point that they cannot extricate themselves. Obama has far more than done his part to reach a settlement the country can live with. He’s gone far enough.
Economic catastrophe awaits if a deal isn’t concluded.
The next days will tell the tale.
(Note: this is a continuing series which began June 23, and will continue as long as the state and national situation remain unsettled.)

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