Dear Members of Congress:
You probably shouldn’t be wasting time reading my blog post – as right now you have more important things to do, like preventing a chain-reaction, global economic meltdown caused by the crisis you manufactured around the debt ceiling. But in the event you have to take a potty break, and brought your iPad into the stall with you – this might be a helpful read, and more productive than Googling yourself to see how many Americans have cursed your name within the last 24 hours.
Given that you work for an institution that requires at least a majority, if not a super-majority vote of agreement in order for you to accomplish anything; and given that the term “compromise” has ironically become a term of derision and scorn amongst your colleagues in Washington – it seems to me you’ve put yourselves, and us collectively, into a no-win situation. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be such a bad thing – as most Americans, Democrats and Republican — feel that the less meddling you do, the better off the rest of us are.
But, you’ve uncorked this genie with absolutely no idea of how to get it back in the bottle. So perhaps a few words of common sense and homespun wisdom that you should have learned in kindergarten – non controversial ideas that all Americans can agree on – might be helpful to you in cleaning up the mess you made. So here goes:
- Family Values: If you are a part of a family – were raised with siblings, or are raising children – you know that you can’t always get what you want. And if you stomp and scream and hold your breath until you break the spirit of those around you to get your way, you might win once or twice – but no one will play with you ever again. You will get locked in the closet and have to suffer while the other kids play, only to be released begrudgingly after all the fun is over. You will be called “Prissy,” “Cry Baby,” “Adolph,” and/or “Bossy Pants.” And no one will like you. Respect you. Or take you seriously ever again until you grow up. Unless you are an only child or an alien hatchling, you already know this. So stop jumping up and down and telling us why your constituencies elected you, and why you are not going to budge or compromise. Nobody cares why you’re sulking in the corner with your arms crossed, holding your breath and turning blue. Nobody likes you right now. And we can’t stand listening to you. You sir/madame, are flushing our country down the toilet by your actions.
- Nobody Likes a Tattletale: We all have been there. Somebody throws a spitball at you in class. Someone tugs your hair and pretends someone else did it. You got tripped on the soccer field and the coach didn’t see it. We all have suffered indignities. And we all have inflicted them. But no one respects the kid who raises his hand in front of the teacher and other kids, and tattles. At my home, tattling was a punishable offense. So – if you don’t like how your colleagues across the aisle are negotiating this debt ceiling deal – I can tell you that you won’t win support or sympathy by holding a press conference to point fingers and call your colleagues names. We all think that’s really snarky. It makes us think of that annoying tattletale in class. You’re not winning any supporters. You’re hurting your cause.
- Play Nice With Others in the Sand Box: On your job descriptions, I’m sure it mentioned that you have to work with 534 other people on a fairly regular basis. That you will be working in a collaborative environment and that all opinions are respected. That you must be congenial and respectful of diverse opinions. If the job description didn’t mention that, it should have. Most of us work in similar environments so we’re used to it. We go to work every day with people who have different beliefs, some of whom we don’t like or see socially – and we still get the job done. We learned how to do this in the sandbox when we were kids. We usually learned that lesson the hard way – after we yanked the Tonka Toy from Billy’s clutches, only to have it yanked away from us by Mom and returned to Billy, followed by a very shameful and public expulsion from the sandbox in front of the other kids. In Congress, you seem to gloat that you don’t like the people across the aisle or spend any time with them. And that you don’t try and get to know them and understand their positions. You seem to think it’s a good thing that you don’t go to dinners with colleagues from the other party, have lunches in the congressional cafeteria, or play golf with them. In the sandbox – if you didn’t come out and play, we couldn’t get to know you. So we thought you were weird and, most likely we hated you and called you names. But that’s what happens when you don’t try and get to know the people you work (or play) with – and play nice. When you made a small effort, it changed everything and we realized that all those nasty things we were saying really weren’t true. And you became our friend and we learned how to do stuff together. But, how are you going to save our economy from the folly you’ve created – if you can’t even play nice together in the sandbox?
- Take Responsibility for Your Actions: I think every American – Republican or Democrat – can agree that we were raised to take responsibility for our actions. If I broke my brother’s toy – I had to replace it. When I stole candy from the counter at the supermarket – I was called to task and marched back to that counter with money from my piggy bank and paid for it. When I stuck the key in the electrical outlet that subsequently created an arc on the electrical grid and a power outage in our neighborhood (OK, I wasn’t always the brightest kid), I fessed up and took the lumps. So, if you, Congress, fail to resolve this debt ceiling crisis after creating it in the first place – I want you to pay for it. Depending on who you believe, the economic consequences of failing to do your jobs and pass the necessary debt ceiling legislation will cause a ripple effect in the billions, if not trillions of dollars around the globe. Given that the cause will directly be the result of your failure to do your jobs, I believe you should be personally liable for your abrogation of your responsibilities. I advocate that the General Accounting Office should keep a spreadsheet tallying the economic impact of this mess you’ve created, and on a monthly basis divide the total damages by 535, and send you a bill for reimbursement.
Now, I’m sure you’re not currently legally liable to pay damages for your recklessness. But you’re Congress – so you can change the law. I think every American – Republican and Democrat – would support this legislation. So, if you truly represent the sentiments of your constituents – you should be able to pass this bill on one vote without so much as a debate.