by Mike Bond
Like a Hollywood breakup or the latest mini-scandal, the “Fiscal Cliff” has been a media homerun. An eye-catching slogan with the added excitement of impacting us all. It fills papers, media programs and blogs, and makes tons of money for the folks who sell us the news.
But like a medical status report, what it really says is far more tragic. That a nation $16 trillion in debt ($250,000 per taxpayer) is so financially bonkers it can’t get its credit card addiction under control. A nation that earns about $2.2 trillion a year but spends about $3.5 trillion – thus indebting us $1.3 trillion more a year. So that nearly a quarter of our taxes now go to paying interest on this ballooning debt – money we probably can never repay.
The political “deal” that supposedly keeps us from falling off the “Cliff” is proof of our continuing debt addiction. Jammed full of honeypot subsidies for both parties’ corporate contributors, it monumentally increases our debt but resolves none of the catastrophic issues facing our nation. Instead we need to invest in education, infrastructure, health systems, public resources, and rational defense. We need to spend what we earn, as a normal American family tries to do. What we don’t need is to further enrich our politicians’ corporate friends.
Most Americans now realize that our politicians no longer work for us but for the corporate contributors that put them in office. When it can cost $30 million to buy a Senate seat, most of this money has to come from the companies that will benefit from the votes the winner will cast, so “we the people” can hardly expect to have a voice.
An example: nearly everyone in Washington knows that industrial wind power projects don’t lower greenhouse gas emissions or fossil fuel use, because wind is so erratic that fossil fuel plants have to work overtime to back them up. Nonetheless our DC politicians, lobbied by the foreign energy companies and investment banks that own the wind industry, have added $15 billion in new subsidies for these environmentally and socially destructive boondoggles.
This new subsidy was inserted in the “deal” despite almost a million emails, letters, phone calls, letters to the editor and Congressional visits from ordinary Americans begging to terminate this outrageous taxpayer ripoff. From people whose lives have been destroyed by industrial wind projects, environmentalists outraged over the million birds a year killed by wind turbines, from scientists, engineers, and financial analysts who keep pointing out that wind energy is a massive fraud.
But that’s just one example. Plenty of similar subsidies and hidden corporate slush funds abound in this new hogwash of federal borrowing.
Sure, there’s a fiscal cliff. “We the people” have just been thrown over it. And if we want to change our nation we must stop expecting our politicians to do it.
Bestselling novelist, financial journalist, war and human rights correspondent and international energy expert, Mike Bond lives on Molokai. He can be reached at