Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Chicken, Little

I've read a couple different discussions of our country's debt crisis describing it as "playing chicken." If you've led a sheltered life and that term has passed you by for some reason, you should know that this particular game is played with two cars, each heading directly at one another on a track or road. The object is very simple: The one who refuses to swerve wins. The one who dives for the ditch out of self-preservation loses. Kevin Bacon played it in "Footloose," only they were driving tractors. James Dean had a variation on it in "Rebel Without A Cause." His version involved a cliff. James wasn't as successful as Kevin in avoiding impact later, but they both won on film.
For the past few weeks, we've been watching two houses of Congress gassed up and revving their engines, ready to plow their way into immortality for the sake of our Triple A credit rating. The irony being, that the United States would maintain that rating regardless of the outcome of the "negotiations" in Washington. In this version, Moody's is neither Lori Singer nor Natalie Wood. The Investors Service won't swoon if we save ourselves from default, nor will they stand in silent awe if we put the pedal to the metal and roar on past any tax increases, no matter how desperate we may be. Instead, the rest of the world looks on with a faintly jaundiced, disappointed, John Lithgow/Jim Backus eye, wishing that we could keep our wreck of an economy off the shoulder. And out of the fast lane.

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