High Noon Economics – Who really suffers?
When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
A proverb among the Kikuyu people, a tribal group in Kenya, Africa.
In today's parlance, I guess, we could expand that proverb to say, "When elephants and donkeys fight, the grassroots suffer." Isn't it intriguing to watch the politicians squabble over raising the U. S. debt ceiling? The posturing, the pontificating, the postulating, the predictions, the placating, and that's just the P-words we can use to describe their insincere, uncaring, condescending attitudes toward an issue that up until now has been almost an automatic move by Congress.
Under George W. Bush the debt ceiling was raised five times, thereby increasing the national debt from $5.9 trillion to $9.8 trillion. Several of the politicians who are railing against raising the ceiling now voted all five times to do the same thing under George W. What hypocrites! And common folks, the grassroots folks, voted for these knuckleheads. How stupid is that? Now they are fighting and we are on life support.
How can voter approval of Congress be 13%, the lowest in the history of the Gallup Poll, while many in Congress have been there for decades? This reminds me of another quote: "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." Thomas Sowell.
Those without resources will suffer tremendously during an economic catastrophe. Yes, we can do wonders with a pot of beans and some cornbread, but what about the long run? In our current economic state people are breaking into homes to steal a couple of pounds of copper piping that they can sell for about $2.00 per pound.
Two things for your consideration, especially you politicians. First, our children's future is in a tug-of-war right now; they are the ones who will surely take the hit for the games you are playing now. They are in schools where teachers were laid off and activities cut in response to budget shortfalls. They are in colleges across this country, mounting up student loans, which comprise the latest "bubble" just like housing and Dot Com's. When they graduate they will be faced not only with paying back tens of thousands in loans but also with very dire prospects for obtaining a job with which to do so. All of this while you play political games with their future.
Second, when politicians take office they proudly take their positions to be sworn in. Many have their families around them and someone special to hold the Bible upon which they place their hand and swear or affirm some boilerplate verbiage about their duties. I have to believe that after the pomp and circumstance, after the "swearing in" ceremony, after the celebrations and accolades have been given, and after the congratulatory glad-handing, most of politicians never sit down and open that Bible to see what it says about their obligations and responsibilities. That Bible collects dust for the next two, four, or six years waiting for them to stand again and swear again that they will do what is right by those who elected them.
While, admittedly, it is hard to do, we pray for these political hypocrites who are in leadership positions. We pray they will not only pose for their photo-op with the Bible but they will also do what it says with regard to those over whom they rule and for whom they make decisions. Don't just put your hand on the Book, turn the pages once in a while.
May this high-stakes game of economics come to an end soon, and may those who are playing it come to their senses before it's too late. This is not merely about the debt ceiling; it is about the future of this country and economic foundation upon which our children and grandchildren will stand. They are the ones who will suffer from this latest elephant-donkey fight.
James E. Clingman, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati's African American Studies department, is former editor of the Cincinnati Herald newspaper and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce. He hosts the cable television program, ''Blackonomics,'' and has written several books, including his latest, Black Empowerment with an Attitude - You got a problem with that? To book Clingman for a speaking engagement or purchase his books, call 513 489 4132 or go to his Website, www.blackonomics.com.