26 July 2011

the state of the economy

Debt ceiling, debt ceiling, debt ceiling.

Every time I turn on NPR or walk by the TV at the gym or glance at the newspaper, those words attack me.

And the more I hear, the more frustrated I get.

The political grandstanding on both sides, and how everyone is claiming to be for the American people, for the little man, for the middle class.

But if you pay attention to what the American people are saying, you'll hear more about the NFL deal and the Netflix price increase than about the debt ceiling. What does that mean about us as a politically-engaged country? I don't know the answer to that.

The "No way, it's their fault" finger pointing. This tactic didn't work very well on the playground, so I'm not sure how well it'll work in Congress. We've all been on the playground, whether we were the bullies, the ones being teased, one of the pretty girls, or the kids nobody paid attention to. We've all learned that finger pointing rarely gets you anywhere, and it never feels good afterward.

The discussion of "How will this impact our standing in the world?" Here's what I don't get: it's not as if we've been hiding the fact that we have a $14 trillion debt and bills we won't be able to pay; come August 2, that won't be a surprise that suddenly causes markets to distrust us.

To me, it seems that the inability to make a decision would hurt our standing more, but hey, I'm no politician or pundit. I'm just a girl trying to understand why this debt ceiling thing is still news—as opposed to a passing story of "And Congress today approved a bill to raise America's debt ceiling to a bajillion dollars. Because they're pretty sure we'll never owe that much money, if anyone can figure out how much that is."

The talk of how we're coming up on an election year, so of course that's why Congress is scared to do anything.

All the noise, noise, noise, noise.

So in the midst of this debt ceiling talk, I've done what I normally do when I get frustrated: I've turned to poetry. I read this poem last night: "The State of the Economy."

Now here is a poem that discusses paycheck-to-paycheck life in America, the kind of life our politicians always say they understand. In this poem are the kinds of people our politicians always say they represent, always say they're fighting for.

But then they go and have a press conference about how they aren't getting their way—ostensibly couched as the way that helps these paycheck-to-paycheck people.

They say they're fighting the good fight for the American people, but even in front of their backdrop of the American flag, they sound decidedly out of touch with America.

I'm not overly political. But today I'm frustrated with politics, and in moments like these, I'm glad I can turn to poetry.

The State of the Economy
Louis Jenkins

There might be some change on top of the dresser at the
back, and we should check the washer and the dryer. Check
under the floor mats of the car. The couch cushions. I have
some books and CDs I could sell, and there are a couple big
bags of aluminum cans in the basement, only trouble is that
there isn't enough gas in the car to get around the block. I'm
expecting a check sometime next week, which, if we are careful,
will get us through to payday. In the meantime with your one—
dollar rebate check and a few coins we have enough to walk to
the store and buy a quart of milk and a newspaper. On second
thought, forget the newspaper.


  1. yes - what else can one do after reading about congress/debt ceiling madness? The only thing you can do is turn to poetry. And what a lovely poem :)

  2. Poetry makes everything a little more sane...!



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