'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OPRAH AND CRULLERS AND CUTS, OH MY!
The recent debt ceiling showdown in Washington DC caused people to ask many questions, such as: What exactly is a trillion? Answer: it’s a million times a million, a one with 12 zeros after it. To put it in layman’s terms, you would need to assemble 2,000 Oprah Winfreys—each with the net worth of the real Oprah—to equal one trillion dollars. And right now the US government is in debt to the tune of 14 trillion dollars (or 28,000 Oprahs). No, wait a minute. Now it’s up to 15 trillion (30,000 Oprahs). I can’t wait to see how much we owe by the time this column is done.
Another question people asked was: how did we let our financial health and well-being be determined by a bunch of pompous blowhards who wear silk suits and polyester toupees? (Or is it polyester suits and silk toupees?) Answer: we used to be a self-reliant country, but one day when we weren’t paying attention (because we were watching Oprah) we accidentally signed over control of the entire economy to people with less brains than the Octomom and less self-control than Charlie Sheen.
Yet another question asked during the debt ceiling showdown: Cutting two trillion dollars in spending is a good thing, right? Answer: O ye of too much faith! You fell for the trap of thinking that a cut is a cut. Maybe in your household a “cut” is defined as “spending less than before,” but in Washington DC, a “cut” is defined as “spending a whole lot more than before, but just slightly less than some crack-smoking congressmen proposed.”
The two trillion dollar “cut” was a major feature of the debt ceiling agreement. The Republicans said it would “reign in out-of-control government spending,” while the Democrats said it would “cause senior citizens to starve.” (Actually, Democrats always say senior citizens will starve, because they learned many years ago if they make that claim during campaign season they automatically win elections.)
Although a two trillion dollar cut sounds like a lot of savings, the details of the agreement show that two trillion will be trimmed from future spending increases over the next decade. So instead of adding a projected 20,000 Oprahs—I mean, 10 trillion dollars to the national debt over the next few years, we are only going to add 8 trillion dollars to the debt. Hurray! Happy days are here again!
Let’s put this in terms we can understand. My personal coffee and donut budget is four dollars per day. That gets me one large coffee and two glazed crullers. (I probably only need one glazed cruller, but I always order two just in case one is defective. Although in 20 years I’ve never had a defective glazed cruller, you can never be too careful.)
Now, let’s suppose one day I announce that my new daily coffee and cruller budget shall be eight dollars. However, the next day I revise my announcement and say it will be six dollars. On planet Earth, this clearly would be understood as a 50-percent increase from four to six dollars. But on planet Spaceball, also known as Washington DC, this would be understood as a 25-percent CUT in spending, from eight dollars down to six.
See how it works? Yes, you’re right, it doesn’t work; it’s a weasel deal. So the next time you hear a politician claim there will be “cuts,” remember it’s nothing but a creepy cruller caper. And the way things are going, soon you will need 30 Oprahs just to buy one glazed cruller.
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