Even though this is a business town, some of you seem confused about the pending debt calamity. This should clear everything up:
Q: Why can't we this get worked out?
In part because you're not dealing with perfectly rational, highly intelligent people who have the nation's best interests at heart. This isn't like a dispute between NFL owners and players.
Q: There seems to be a lot of blame going around. Who's really at fault?
Your Aunt Molly. See, there used to be plenty of money sloshing around to fight two wars, provide tax relief to the insanely wealthy and build HOV lanes that nobody uses.
Then medical advances made it so that nobody dies at a reasonable age anymore, particularly hypochondriacs like Molly down in Florida, who is healthy as a horse but costing us the equivalent of a nuclear aircraft carrier every year in Medicare co-pays.
And every time one of her friends gets an operation, she wants one too, so she'll have something to talk about at canasta. If Aunt Molly ever passes, all this debt stuff will go away, and we can build an HOV lane all the way to Yadkinville.
Q: Why does this guy Boehner always look like he needs a nap?
House Speaker John Boehner used to be a small businessman and he knows that a tax increase would destroy jobs. When the tax cuts went into effect in 2000, the national unemployment rate was 4 percent. Now it's 9.2 percent. So, see, he doesn't want to lose all the jobs the tax cuts have created.
Working out the math on this keeps him awake at night.
Q: If the federal government can't pay its bills, will the $25 million it has pledged for a 1.5-mile trolley from uptown to Presbyterian Hospital be imperiled?
No, no, no. Essential services will be maintained.
Q: Explain this jam.
Imagine you run a household. You're breaking even. Then your middle-school daughter just has to have the new iPhone or she'll be just, like, soooooo 2010, so you say what the heck and put it on the credit card, and then your son needs a safe car because he's about to turn 16, so you get him the sensible Volvo station wagon, and then your husband goes to war with the evil neighborhood association over his backyard bamboo forest, and he hires an expensive attorney who bills by the hour.
You wake up one day and, presto, you can't pay the mortgage, the Volvo payments, the bamboo attorney or the texting bill. And not only is every bit of this essential for your household, but tomorrow Dillard's is having a shoe sale.
Q: How's this going to end?
We'll probably wake up next week in a deadbeat nation, which is absolutely the second-worst thing that could ever happen.
First-worst would be to keep on going like we have been.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mark Washburn is a columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.