One day you call your doctor because last night you felt a tightness in your chest. You feel fine now, but it was bad last night. He chews your ass, telling you that you know better and should have called 911.
But you didn’t, not because you didn’t think you were having a heart attack (you did), but because you were in the middle of a crack binge, and had you done so, you would have gone to the hospital – and then straight to jail.
So you toughed it out, and didn’t keel over. He tells you to come in – right now.
When you get there he hooks you up to the EKG and looks you over. Then he asks: You’re doing drugs, aren’t you, and don’t worry – I’m not going to call the cops, but you have to level with me – this is about your health, not the law.
You admit it – you were, in fact, binging on crack last night.
It started out as just a little high, you see, with some friends. But then one night you did too much, and the next morning when the alarm went off you had trouble getting out of bed. So you took a hit before going to work.
Soon you needed it. You had a hit in the morning when you got up. You took some powder cocaine in a little vial and had a snort at lunch to keep going. And then in the evening a bit more, just so you didn’t collapse before you had dinner. And finally, as your system ran out of (fake) energy, you collapsed in bed.
As the months went on the doses increased. A lot. The one hit in the morning became one when the alarm went off, and one after your shower. Then it was three – one just before you left the house. Then four. The one little snort at lunch turned into two, three, four. Then one at each bathroom break – which you “needed” every hour.
The price of all the drugs started to cause problems too. First to go was the beer and nights out – you were paranoid anyway that someone would know you were doing dope, so you didn’t want to go out anyway. Then the girlfriend – she left you but she was an evil bitch anyway. What does a woman know who doesn’t enjoy the finer things in life (like crack)? You were sure you were better off without her and besides, now you have more money for drugs..
The night you had the chest pains was really scary. You thought you were going to die. But you didn’t, and the next morning you feel fine – with another hit off the pipe, of course.
The doctor delivers his sermon: Stop the drugs, right now, or you’re dead.
You solemnly nod your head in understanding. You know he’s right – you had that feeling the night before. But you also know that if you quit you won’t get to work the next day and you’ll get fired. You might get thrown into the street and starve.
When you get home you gaze longingly at the pipe. “Just one more hit” you promise yourself. “I can taper it off… over ten years” you say. “It’ll be ok” you reassure yourself.
And you reach for the pipe……..
Was that crack cocaine, or was it this? Was it the Hummer in the driveway? The big house in the suburbs? The $40,000+ in college tuition for the kids – each – five times what you paid to go just a couple of decades earlier? The boat down at the lake? The fancy vacations to Europe – and Maui – last year?
2008 was the tight chest where you avoided death. The chart even looks like a heart attack. But the debt ceiling increase and the refusal to admit to the truth and talk to the American people about what’s really going on, that we’ve been binging on drugs and nearly died, and that if we don’t quit now we will expire is you, sitting in that apartment, right after you get back from the doctor and see the old glass pipe on the nightstand.
Your buddies who talked you through the scary night are Tim Geithner, President Obama, the CNBC crew and the ivory-tower “eCONomists” like Krugman. Then there are the bankers, who have been selling you the dope. The latter, of course, will go broke if you stop doing the drugs and they bribe the politicians with campaign contributions and buy advertising on the media outlets, insuring that their point of view gets wide dissemination – and nobody else’s does. In fact, they both call the doctors names and claim they really don’t know what they’re talking about.
You’d think that all the above would care if you die, for a dead man doesn’t buy any drugs. You’d be wrong because your drug dealer managed to get the title to all your assets in his name before you took the first hit.
So let’s ask the question: Are we prepared to “Just Say No” yet? Or do we prefer death?
See, we’re getting another warning right now. The wild gyrations in the market? Those are heart palpitations, and they’re scary. If you’re in the market you probably have had that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach over the last week. It wasn’t as bad as 2008 but it sure had that familiar tinge to it…..
We’ve trashed our economy folks and it didn’t happen overnight. We offshored our labor, destroyed the incentives for capital formation and bought more and more drugs – including the legal sort – instead of eating reasonably and being active. It’s easier to take a pill (or a snort) than to go to the gym, ride a bicycle or put on a pair of running shoes.
The politicians think they have years. Most believe we have a decade, some (like Ryan) think we have two or more decades. We don’t. The warnings are emergent now. The heart palpitations are happening as you read this. The first “heart attack” was bad, and we nearly died. But the damage was not repaired: employment has not come back, trade policy was not rationalized, the illegal aliens in the country are still sucking down tax funds we need for citizens, the people who sold us the drugs originally were not cut off and jailed and we all didn’t stop binging. All we did was get our dope from a new pusher – the Federal government – and the government told us we didn’t have to pay for the drugs as they called them “benefits” and “entitlements.” In short we squandered the opportunity of 2007 when we could have accepted a 15% contraction in the Federal government’s size. Now we have to accept a forty percent contraction. The required contraction to restore balance not only has gotten worse it will continue to do so the longer we wait before we act.
It is time to choose America, even though choosing to get well will be painful. It will result in much more unemployment in the short term, and the government will not be able to increase assistance. It will result in the stock market plunging. And it will result in the big banks and may over-levered firms, large and small, being gutted, with many of them going out of business.
But if we don’t do it – and do it now – we’ll have “the big one”, and that voluntary assumption of pain will pale beside the outcome that will occur.
It is time to choose, and remember: Choosing to not decide is, in fact, a choice.