"Really," you ask. "Isn't that a little uppity?" Who the hell cares what Jeff Noble has to say about the debt crisis? What makes him an expert? All good questions.
Let me offer two phenomena from the past, one a one-time occurence, the other an annual event here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.
When I was 19 years old, the Winter Olympics featured an American team in hockey whose star was Mike Eruzione, the team's captain, in their wins over the Soviet Union and Finland. Everyone I knew that winter became an expert on hockey. We all seemed to know the stats, who the left wings were, and why the Soviets were so good yet still fell to the Americans. It was a good feeling. The truth is I don't know a thing about hockey, have no idea who the stars were then or are now, but I remember the Miracle on Ice and Mike Eruzione and the American hockey gold medalists. Why? Because that's how popular culture works.
If you spend more than one year in Louisville, for at least one week or so every year in late April or early May, you will find yourself and everyone else making comments about "the latest star filly and her workout last week in the Bluegrass," or yet another fine stallion whose "lineage includes Northern Dancer" so he is a sure winner. We all become horse racing fanatics and experts for a few fleetings moments, perhaps only two minutes, prepping for the annual renewal of America's longest running horserace held on one track, the Kentucky Derby, the mile-and-a-quarter run for the roses begun in 1875. We participate in "pots" at work, send bets out to the track on Wednesday and Thursday, because even Oaks Day is getting too crowded, and we all watch in anticipation for the call late in the afternoon on the First Saturday in May, Louisville's local holiday.
So is it any surprise that the talk of the town, or to borrow the title of an NPR program, the talk of the nation, is "how do you feel about the debt ceiling stuff?" We all seem to have an opinion. Those of us who live and work and play in politics - a motley crew - get asked probably more often about such matters than the general populace, but sometimes a matter grabs the collective attention of the Republic and requires all of us to participate - or at least to pretend to do so.
Well, I have a confession. July was a particularly bad month for me in a number of ways - friends out-of-work, parents hospitalized, and the damned unrelenting heat. I have felt rather Hamlet-like, to be honest, losing interest in a number of things which normally interest me. Recall the words of Prince Hamlet, late in Act II, in a discussion with Ros and Guil, the famous "What a piece of work is man" soliloquy, to wit -
I have of late--
but wherefore I know not--
lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises;
and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that
this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory,
this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,
why, it appears no other thing to me
than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man!
how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty!
in form and moving how express and admirable!
in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
man delights not me: no, nor woman neither,
though by your smiling you seem to say so.
Now, to be sure, I'm not as deep in the morass as was Horatio's dear friend Hamlet. I've just been bored and stressed about a number of things and the debt ceiling crisis was not one of them.
Yet, I've been asked several times in the last seventy-two hours my opinion on the resolution allegedly being hammered out in the Federal City 606 miles northeast of here. My brother has asked, a woman at work who I had not seen in two months has asked, a mechanic friend who works on Poplar Level Road has asked, even a lady I didn't know inquired of both me and my friend Preston Bates our opinion as we were sharing a drink at the Bristol on Bardstown Road yesterday. She went as far as to share her 83 year old mother's opinion on the matter showing us on her phone an email she had received from dear ol' Mom. It seems we all have something to offer. Like the 1980 fanfare over the American Hockey team, everyone either wants to know your opinion or wants to share their own. It is natural and I am faulting no one. I believe - deeply believe - that most Americans mean well, even some of those with whom I share few political values.
Below is an exchange of thoughts in a chat box between me and Ed Martin, someone with whom I share some, though not many, political values. Mr. Martin and I have had quite a few exchanges of thoughts and ideas on how the Republic is and isn't properly ran. I find him for more knowledgeable than many on the subject of Economics, several classes of which I took whilst a student at the various institutions of higher learning I attended back when I was into higher learning. He cites a number of articles here and there, most more libertarian than my usual fare of reading, but many very articulate in matters related to the fiscal operation of our Republic and the World. He talks about a lot more subjects but it is his political and economic views which have caught my attention.
Many of you may remember Mr. Martin in his appearance on the KET debate during the 2010 Third Congressional District campaign. He was the independent candidate, largely a national libertarian although he didn't identify as such, against the incumbent, my friend and representative in Washington, Congressman John Yarmuth, and the Republican challenger, a UPS pilot who tried to blame his loss of work in the mid 1990s on Yarmuth's political policies, policies Yarmuth could have only begun to enact with his swearing in in 2007, over a decade later. [As a side note, Congressman Yarmuth's congressional career began the same day as did this blog]. But, I digress.
Mr. Martin is something of a social liberal, and certainly libertariansitic and fiscally conservative. He also seems to be far more intelligent than many who have wandered into the Secretary of State's office and filed for a national office, including our recently elected junior United States Senator from Kentucky. I've learned all this by following him on Facebook, where he makes his opinions widely known on a wide number of topics. I would not want to be his political handler without some abbreviation of those postings, worthy as they might be. The truth is I've learned a lot from reading them. He and the aforementioned Preston share many values; Preston and I discuss a lot of those ourselves, irrespective of Ed, and disagree on much of it. Ed and I haven't discussed as much - it is mostly me reading whatever it is he has to say - and he says a lot. One large difference is that I believe, and I may be wrong, that Ed believes there is some legitimate function for government, however large or small that it might be. Preston, at least lately, doesn't conceive of a proper role for government at all, a discussion he and I have had several times. But, again, I digress.
Below is a short exchange between Ed and me earlier today on the matter at hand, the ubiquitous debt ceiling discussion. It expresses his frustration to the present situation and my response in a rather concise way, far more concise than this stream-of-consciousness entry you've been reading thus far - assuming you are still reading. I might add that Ed and I have been very informally engaged in a dialogue cocerning him affiliating with one or the other of the major political parties.
Here is today's exchange --
Edward Martin -- Given the lack of imagination and innovation, I'd say the dems (in particular) need someone like me...more than ever. Their performance in DC was pathetic...I'm sorry to say that includes Yarmuth.
Me --- This email deserves a thoughtful response but I am not up to it at this point. I must confess I grew weary of the debt ceiling stuff and, as if an abbreviated season of Lent were upon us, gave it up for the last 40 hours or so. I have no idea what they finally did, but I am sure whatever it was, I am not happy about it. You and I disagree on the size and role of government so I doubt there could be a solution pleasing to both of us. If John [Yarmuth] didn't call for cuts associated with tax increases, and not just the elimination of loopholes, then I, too, share your displeasure in his actions. But, again being honest, I didn't follow the closing hours and, unlike you, I'm not intelligent enough to get my head around the big picture. A final thought - as you know - and apparently have been saying for some time - we did not get here overnight or over the course of a single 60% completed presidential administration. Should we honestly expect the problem to be resolved by a single action of a single Congress? I think not. I do know that some of what was voted on concerns matters in the future, specifically beyond the 2012 election. While that is certainly a good political move, it is also, probably, a good practical move. The American public will respond to this at the polls in November '12. I believe it should properly take the actions of three or four Congresses to correct the failures of the last thirty-five years. I'm beginning to think that other than Clinton our last good president fiscally, domestically, and in foreign policy was Richard Nixon.
The main idea I wish to leave you with is contained above in the line, "Should we honestly expect the problem to be resolved by a single action of a single Congress?" I think not.
So, now that you've read mine, do you have a statement on the Debt Ceiling Resolution?