Hollywood and Washington Hope You Love Sequels

January 7, 2013

I hope you all like sequels.movie-300-fiscal-cliff-2-620x374

Hollywood knows we like sequels and rehashes to familiar stories.  We gobble them up.  We demand more.

So maybe Congress is just taking a cue from Hollywood.

Last week, we “averted” the so called “fiscal cliff” with a last minute deal to fend off a doomsday-like scenario of automatic tax hikes.

But we did so in a way that solved absolutely no problems whatsoever.  And, once again, the can was kicked down the road.  I hope you like sequels, because we are going to watch this farce unfold again in March.

Everyone knows someone who just can’t get their act together.  No matter how much they struggle, no matter how much help or how many second chances they get, they just can’t stop being a completely trainwreck, a lightning rod, and a dysfunctional mess.  I’ve come to see our government as our dysfunctional, roadkill-like friend.  It’s awful to watch, but we can’t look away.

But despite all of this, I think we actually can learn something from an old-fashioned game of “kick the can” with our representatives in Washington.

When Procrastination is the Best Option

The Bible has a lot to say about wasting time.  The short of it is that God is against it.  It’s the one resource we can’t get back once we’ve let it go.

I like the apostle Paul’s words best in Ephesians where he tells his readers to live wisely and to take every opportunity because the “days are evil.”

I have wondered why this whole “fiscal cliff” was an issue in the first place.  Why in the world do lawmakers write laws with these doomsday devices built in, threatening to plunge America back into the dark ages when they expire?  (It reminds me of that episode of The Office where Dwight’s doomsday device threatens to get everyone fired at the end of the day.)

But the doomsday laws are not the problem.  We are witnessing a time when procrastinating is the most politically advantageous thing to do.  Politicians have less to answer for when they put off.  When they accomplish something, some people are bound to be against it.  If they do nothing, perhaps there will be fewer angry people to answer to.

That’s probably true for us too.  If we procrastinate and do nothing today, we will probably have less to answer for when we go to sleep tonight.  But that doesn’t make it a wise way to live.

Ripping Off Band-Aids

In my search for information about just what the consequences would be if we fell over the cliff, virtually everyone said it would cause a recession in 2013.

But it seemed that almost no one actually finished that sentence.

Because a few voices actually said that, yes, there would be a recession.  And then our economy would be better.  We would have less debt and deficit.  We would go through a rough time.  Unemployment would climb back up to 9% (not exactly the 30% unemployment mire that Greece is dealing with), but America would be in better shape over the next decade.

So, if I’m reading this right, this is the equivalent of our leaders being afraid to rip a band-aid off.

But that’s another lesson for us to learn.  When we act decisively, it will probably cause some discomfort in the short-term.  Accomplishing long-term goals (especially when they are great ones) demands short-term pain.  If you want to avoid pain and discomfort, you need only sacrifice your vision for the future.

Sequels, Three-quels, Reboots, and Remakes

The last piece of the puzzle that seemed to go overlooked is that this mess was actually a sequel, eighteen months in the making.

Remember the whole debt ceiling debate over the summer of 2010?  It was a big, stupid drama.  And when it ended, Congress created the temporary band-aids that they are afraid to rip off.  Well, January 1 was the end of that road.  And the can was kicked again.  For two months, we will be tricked into thinking we have solved a problem.  And then there will be a flurry of arguments and drama in March as we struggle to again avoid disaster.

My prediction: the can will again be kicked, and very little will be solved.  We’re going to get a trilogy. And then a remake.  And a reboot of the franchise.  A never ending cycle.

Everyone likes to watch inspiring people succeed.  But we can learn just as much wisdom by watching the unwise actions of others.  We have problems to deal with.  We have goals we want to meet this year.  But it will be extraordinarily easy, less painful, and more expedient to kick the can down the road a month or two.  Procrastination will be preferable to the short-term pain that action will cause.

But, we avoid short-term pain at the cost of our future.

What have you been putting off?  What are you hoping to accomplish this year?  What short-term pain will you have to endure to get there?  (Of you can just comment on politics if you wish!)


3 responses to Hollywood and Washington Hope You Love Sequels

  1. Try to remember civics class. Our government was set up to be inefficient and redundant from the very beginning in order to keep it from becoming too much like a monarchy.

    There’s a quote I read, I think it was from Patton Oswalt but I can’ t find it right now, that effectively said we probably don’ t really WANT a really efficient government that gets things done well. Nazi Germany was that type of government. Considering some of the whackjobs that get elected, I personally don’t want everyone there to agree that quickly.

    Think about it– if our government actually was able to make big unilateral decisions very quickly, we probably *would* have that totalitarian, gun-confiscating state that gets right-wingers all pink-faced.

  2. The Founding Fathers took several months to agree to declare independence from England AND they took many, many months to develop the Constitution. And yes, it was designed so that our lawmakers wouldn’t rush into bone-headed decisions. I’m sure that if someone who was alive when our country was on the brink of a civil war would comment that the political machinations we are witnessing today is NOTHING compared to what the congressmen were doing back in THEIR day.

    I think one difference between our Founding Fathers and today’s crop of “public servants” is the Founding Father’s saw being a public servant as a temporary civic duty, not a career, mainly because the more lucrative careers were in the private sector, not the public sector. No senator or representative today wants to be fired from their job by making a courageous decision(s) that is for the good of the country, long-term if it brings short term suffering because it might mean unemployment for him/her during the suffering part and, when the economy recovers, their replacement gets to take the credit for “turning things around.”

    So maybe we should pass an amendment that gives our senators and representatives the same salary and benefits package as the average migrant farm worker to make sure that we only get cream-of-the-crop-people who are committed to doing what is best for our country in the short time that their constituents allow them to work so they can go back to making real money in the private sector. Oh, and it would also help reduce the budget deficit, at least a little bit. I know that some people would say that paying our congressman so little would only encourage graft and corruption. My reply is that the higher salaries, expense budgets and sweet benefits packages haven’t curbed graft and corruption all that much.

    Unfortunately, the only real solution is the same solution individuals make when they get into debt–cut costs to all but essentials and try and increase income. There should be no golden calves that remain un-desecrated by budget cuts. I say this as someone whose husband works for a company that primarily works on government contracts.
    God’s church and His people should be willing to step in and help those whose support is cut off.

    I have put off knitting for a while when I realized that I had made mistake that involved ripping out a lot of stuff. My husband bought me some sweet new knitting needles that have encouraged me to knit again. I hope to finish a sweater I started for one child in the next month, so that she can wear it before it gets hot again.

  3. You nailed it.
    I feel like it isn’t even Congress’ fault to some degree because we’ve set the level of expectation. We want all the programs, breaks and assistance w/out having to work or pay for them.