So, here you go, America: two fairy tales (well, maybe, or maybe not) and two factual accounts.
You be the judge:
1. Once upon a time a man went into his business's Federal Credit Union. He had done business with them for over fifty years, always paid his bills, never bounced a single check, always been generous.
But now as a consequence of Congressional intransigence and budget impasse he was out of work and had not found a new job despite daily hours of searching and sending resumés.
No one, it seems wanted to hire his services, since they didn't know what was going to happen with the budget. And besides, he was getting a bit long in the tooth.
But his bills were mounting so something had to be done.
So he goes to the faithful credit union.
"I'd like to get an equity loan on my house," he says, and explains the details of his finances.
They listen carefully, then ask: "How will you pay it back? You have your military retirement, but the Government is talking about suspending that, and you have Social Security but they're talking about sequestering that as well. So how can you pay it back?"
"Well", he says, "I have an obscenely rich education, I'm kind to the poor, and I sing in the choir. And I'm still quite healthy. I can work at Walmart of Stop 'n Shop. Heck yesterday I was invited to cut fish at Anthony's Seafood. I'll gladly sign a promissory note and I really reeely promise to pay it back."
"Yes, well all that is nice, but the three you mention are minimum wage and no one is hiring anyhow. You might make $24K a year, but your expenses are $37K a year, so without your military retirement and social security you are going into debt at the rate of $13K a year. And you already owe $163K in credit cards, let alone whatever we lend you. So you can never pay off your debts with this formulary...
"So once again, how will you pay?"
"Well I can sell my house, but then why bother getting a loan..."
So he puts his house up for sale.
Fade out, then back in.
2. The Government goes to the financial markets. Let's call it Seaward and Pacific Credit Union. It's next door to the business Federal Credit Union.
The Government says, "I need to feed the poor. I have an obscenely rich education, I'm kind to the poor, and I sponsor a choir. Several in fact, and some
TV stations and some swimming meets as well. And I'm still quite healthy.
"But I'm in $163,700 in credit card debt. I make $24,690 a year, mostly collecting protection money from others, not actually building bridges or dams or roads or doing anything really useful (like Roosevelt or Eisenhower tried to do). I used to hire a bunch of analysts but I can't afford for anyone to actually think any more, so I've laid them off.
"But I do presently spend $37,930 a year, mostly being kind to others (especially those who don't have jobs), sponsoring nice music, and paying for a few gorillas who sit outside my door (and go into the bad neighborhoods) to keep people from breaking down my door.
"And I just hired another couple of goons, one named Danny Happy Smith (DHS we call him) to sit around INSIDE the door in case anyone gets past the other four.
"Oh, and then this is this pretty girl Nancy Sweet Angel (we call her NSA) to listen in on everyone's cellphones and email and Twitters and Facebook accounts so that we'll know when someone is coming.
"So I really need a loan. I'll gladly sign a ton of promissory notes (you call them "bonds") that I promise, I really reely promise to pay back. I am a nice guy. Trust me."
Seaward and Pacific (S&P for short) says: "Yes, you are a good and faithful servant, and wise beyond your ears. Oh, sorry, I meant years. Bless you my child.
"But before we proceed, didn't you just lay off the guy that just applied for the loan next door? Why did you let him go? Have you hired him back?"
"Oh, no. I can't hire him back. I can't afford my own expenses, so I can't hire him back unless you give me a loan. And besides, he has an obscenely rich education. He's an analyst. His job is thinking, and we can't afford that anymore. But anyhow, he'll find another job, eventually."
"Oh. I see," said S&P. "You can't hire people who really do useful work, but you can afford to give money away to the poor. Well, yes. You certainly are kind.
"But how are you going to pay it back?"
"Well", it says, "I'll just borrow more money."
"Well child, I don't think that will work. You can never pay off $163K plus the money you want to borrow by spending $13.2K more than you earn.
"So we just can't lend you any more, and I'll tell all my friends who run banks and credit unions these details as well, since they can't afford to lend you money either."
"WHAT?!!", it screams. "HOW DARE YOU? WHAT KIND OF A RACIST FASCIST ARE YOU? THIS IS A TRAVESTY! THIS IS LIBEL!! DESTROY A POOR FAMILY'S FAITH IN THEIR GOVERNMENT, WILL YOU????!!! "I'LL SUE!! I'LL SUE!!"
(And maybe send some of their gorillas to visit S&P.... )
Oh! And neither of them lived happily ever after...
And now a break from the sponsors; a little touch of reality, as in "truth" as well as consequences:
1. TRUTH: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324445904578284064003795142.html
or if you prefer
U.S. Sues S&P Over Ratings
2. CONSEQUENCES: Oh, and I do hate to be so inconveniently direct about truth and historical precedent, but do please see the following:
Such a beautiful song to hear, but talk about stuck on stupid...
Apologies to the brothers Grimm, Jim, Walt Kelly, and others...