There is no middle ground

Recent writers to the editor, hoping to avoid the fiscal cliff, have promoted the idea that people in Washington should just grow up, act like adults, work together and come to some compromise for the good of all. Most of these writers look for some, unstated, “middle ground.”

In fact, there is no middle ground. Responsible adults on both sides are acting according to principles in which they strongly believe. Some want more government activity, higher taxes and increased spending. Others want to reduce spending and taxes. Neither the majority nor the minority is willing to abandon their principles.

It’s like a married couple, who have room for only one pet. One loves cats and hates dogs; the other loves dogs and hates cats. In reality, there are neither feline dogs nor canine cats; there is no middle ground.

We should go over the fiscal cliff. The progressives will get their tax increases to pay for the expanded government which consumes 25 percent of gross domestic product. The conservatives will get their spending reductions, hoping to reduce the size and scope of government. The cliff’s bottom will make it harder to stumble along doing nothing.

Unfortunately, the United States has got itself into an obscene financial situation. As of Dec. 28, 2012, our Public Debt is $16,342,068,964,243.84, with estimated population of 314,130,395 people, each one of us owes $52,023.20. For a family of four, the $208,092.80 it owes would buy a very nice home.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cliff will reduce, but not eliminate, our annual deficit. Therefore, our total public debt will continue to increase every year at the cliff’s bottom.

Going over the cliff will drop the GDP to a recession, if not a depression. However, I believe our financial situation is so incurable and irrational that we will have to endure an unprecedented economic disaster to become healthy and prosperous again. We are going to have to work harder, for longer hours, for less pay and fewer benefits in order to pay off the obscene debt we have accumulated. It will be a time of deprivation, forced savings and vigorous investment.

I think it is better to do that sooner – like right now – while we still have resources and resilience. Later it will be much worse and perhaps impossible after we are depleted and discouraged.

Richard G. Briggs