When I got my syllabus, the first thing I did was look for the big assignments. The semester long projects that would require most or all of my attention for more than a few hours. I wanted to be certain that I didn't miss any of the big chunks of my grade for that particular class. Sometime during that first meeting, the professor would announce with grave certainty that this or that essay or research assignment would be "fifty percent of your final grade." Because of the type of person I am, I would go home and immediately look for ways to get started, even if the material I would eventually need to understand wouldn't be covered for weeks.
And that's how I survived college: by planning ahead. This week I did a little informal checking on the members of Congress. Almost every single one of them graduated from college, and a number of them hold advanced degrees. Doc Hastings the representative from central Washington state, for example, might be excused as he went directly into the family business. Steve King, from Iowa, went to Northwestern Missouri State University before he started his own construction business, starting with just one bulldozer. Both of these men could claim ignorance when it comes to matters of higher education, but I can't imagine that a business could be run with any degree of success without planning for the future.
So how is it that the Fiscal Cliff just showed up in front of our elected representatives all of a sudden, after the presidential election? This was a deadline that was more than two years in the making. It was a ticking time bomb put in place after the 2010 midterm election, but there was loud and sincere declarations that someone would know how to disarm it when the time came. That's about the time that the 2012 campaign for the White House began, and that booby trap went ignored while several dozen Republicans had several dozen debates to see who would be the one to stare down Barack Obama. Democrats didn't just sit idly by. They made their excuses and worried about who might be taking their jobs. I wonder how any one of them would have done if they had run on the platform of avoiding the fiscal cliff.
I suppose I can let this go, since the jokers who made the deal in the first place are the same ones who make the rules, and they saw fit to let themselves off the hook. At the last minute. After the last minute. And now everything is back to normal.
What's that ticking sound?