I had a friend over the other day. He asked me, “Hey, G.C., are you worried about the national debt?” I told him, I was not. Right now the debt has not really hurt me, so why worry? “But what about when it does hurt us?” Well, old boy, at that point, what will I be able to do about it that the leaders of this fine country haven’t been able to do?
He continues, “Some are talking about the LIBOR scandal, debt-to GDP being dangerously high, coming austerity, and the need to audit the FED.”
Look, I can’t worry about all of that economic lingo. I can’t fix that myself. Hell, I can’t even understand it and if I did, I doubt Congress will do anything about it anyway.
“So what do you focus on?”
I focus on the obvious invasions to our personal liberty like that damn Chick-fil-A thing, gun rights, Obamacare, and the daily things Obama says to manipulate his base. Things I can understand, maybe have a say in, and pressure Congress to fix.
“How do you do that?”
I educate myself. The Internet…YouTube…political sites. Then, you see, you get a big group together and overwhelm Congress with your outrage.
“How does that work?”
I am a student of psychology. All creatures are slaves to reinforcement. We indulge in what we like because it feels good, even if it is not good for us. That is why we smoke – cancer is in the distant future. That’s why we eat bad food – heart disease is in the distant future. The positive reinforcement outweighs the delayed punishment. Punishment has to be immediate and severe or it can’t compete. That is why addicts don’t seek help until it has all gone to hell.
“What does that have to do with Congress?”
Don’t you see? They are slaves to this as well. They are rewarded by going with the flow up there, and by not making waves they avoid anxiety. The only thing they worry about is being punished by the overwhelming, organized voice of their constituents. That is why these same constituents stopped the Internet privacy thing and why they took the 2010 midterms.
“Don’t you think the Conservatives up there get that? I mean, they talk about it all the time…They know they will be punished…What’s the point of continually yelling about the obvious stuff?”
Others need to be convinced as well. I am sure all the people that are convinced to vote for Obama are open to reason if we just keep yelling and yelling at them. Maybe we can change the Left.
“Really, does that work?”
No, but it seems to feel very good when I can vent it out.
“So if I understand you correctly, you focus on the obvious invasions to individual liberty, educate yourself, get others to voice your concerns, those concerns are well known by Conservatives in Congress, and they know they will be punished if they don’t do something about it.”
“But you won’t focus on the debt because you don’t have the capacity to understand it, haven’t organized others to challenge the Conservatives, and they will avoid it because there is no fear of constituent reprisal. They won’t have to confront the anxiety of making difficult choices or jeopardizing the positive reinforcers they are receiving because there are no immediate or severe consequences.”
Look, I am an American. We are supposed to be in debt. Everyone is in debt that I know. We all have more going out than coming in. That is what credit is all about. If we didn’t buy on credit, there would be a lot more businesses hurting. They rely on us being in debt. That is why the banks need us. They make money off of us needing debt. If we didn’t go into debt, the bankers would be worse off. They couldn’t loan us money for things. That is why we don’t make any money when we try to save. The banks don’t like it when we save. Our country runs on debt.
“But what happens when you are in too much debt… don’t you go broke and have to declare bankruptcy?”
True, but I try not to let it get that far, and hopefully the Government won’t either. I still spend like I want. I have to, to enjoy life a little because all this stress about the country gets to you. You have to have the nice things, the expensive things, to feel good, to impress others, to appease others, gosh to even deal with life.
“But if you don’t save some, you won’t be able to retire in your old age…what about your health in old age, or leaving something for your kids if you don’t have money saved?”
What am I retiring to? The way things are going, I don’t even know if Social Security or Medicare will be around so I can barely scrape by. I am not old yet. I am not sick yet. I am not thinking about my kids. I have not been punished enough yet.
“So you are a slave to reinforcement as well. Spending more than you bring in, avoiding individual austerity now, staying distracted to avoid anxiety, and counting on the Government to be there for you when you get old so you can be a slave to the very thing you hate, assuming it is still even around. Is that not the greatest jeopardy to individual liberty?”
Quite right my friend, but I would be a hypocrite to whine about the Government doing the same thing. I will wait until the country is punished severely for ignoring the debt, like everyone else.
“You’ve been messing with me, haven’t you?”
Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that I may be a hypocrite.