Fiscal Cliff or Economic Pothole?

Once again, the Big News is that we are about to crash and burn. Is the cataclysm a week away, or did the Mayans just forget to get on Amazon and order a new calendar? Are we really at the edge of a fiscal cliff, or are we about to hit an economic pothole? What we have is a hyper-, super-, mega-conspiracy of The Mayans and The Media. They got together and decided that we are well and truly at The End of Time. At least that is what we are told. The real story behind the Mayan Armageddon is more prosaic.

The Chief Prognostication Officer of the Mayan Empire was in a bad mood one day and said, “Enough with the questions, already! I am ganze krank of your ‘What next, Oh Great Quetzl-Schmetzl (Feather-on-the-Anus-of-the-Sun-Bird)?’

“I predicted the Norman Conquest, the Magna Carta, the Italian Invasion of our land, Francis Bacon’s authorship of the works of Shakespeare, the fall of the Alamo, World War I, World War II, the most beautiful car ever (1957 Chevy), Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance, AIDS, a Polish pope, Michael Jackson’s death by propofol overdose, and Hurricane Sandy, but is that enough? Noooooo! It’s always ‘What next, Oh Great Quetzl-Schmetzl?, What next, Oh Great Quetzl-Schmetzl?’

“So here’s one for you: The world will end on December 21, 2012! Oi vey! Are you gescheftig happy, now?”

That is the real, true story behind The End of the World according to the Mayan Calendar. The Fiscal Cliff has a similar origin. President Obama and Mitch McConnell got together and the conversation went something like this:

“Look, Mitch,” the President said, “We really need to do something about this budget stalemate. Now, I know that we need to make some cuts in social programs, but I have to keep the Democratic pinko fringe happy. I can’t just agree to cuts.”

“I know what you mean, Barry. I have to cover my butt crack against the TEA Party wing nuts on the right.”

“How about this, Mitch? The Democrats agree to reductions in everything and the Republicans agree to end the Bush-era tax cuts unless Congress gets its act together in the next year and works out a realistic compromise.”

“Sure, Barry, that’ll happen. Right after the Lock Ness Monster gives a press conference and Jimmy Hoffa is rescued from the basement of Andiamo’s, where he has been held prisoner for the last 37 years.”

“No, look, Mitch, neither one of us wants to take the blame here. We need to set it up so it looks as if we came up a reasonable plan, but it is out of our hands if it doesn’t work. We should give this plan a scary name and pretend it will really happen. How about the Monetary Miscarriage?”

“It might work. How about Budget Breakdown? Capital Catastrophe?”

“I’ve got it, Mitch. We’ll call it the Fiscal Cliff.”

“Forget that Barry, the first letters don’t match. Economic Earthquake? Financial Fiasco?”

“ We’ll think of something. Do you have any cigarettes?”

Fast forward to December 2012. John Boehner and the President are meeting:

“OK, John, we are agreed that we won’t do anything until after the first of the year. We know that the Fiscal Cliff is really a speedbump. So we let things go and on January 1 we start running around screaming ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’ I agree to some shrinkage in social programs and you agree to let tax rates for the top 2% go up. But what if someone tells the American People that the Fiscal Cliff is a hoax?”

“Get real, Barry! It is in everyone’s interest to keep the myth alive. The Democrats and the Republicans both want to keep their lunatic fringes thinking their parties are taking them seriously. The media love the Fiscal Cliff. Otherwise, they’d have to try to find real news to talk about. Nobody is about to blow the whistle. Are we all set here?”

“We’d better not break up too soon here. We want to give the impression that we are involved in tough negotiations. Do you want a beer? If you have some cigarettes, I’m dying for a smoke.”

Relax, America. The world is not ending on December 21 or December 31. Enjoy the holidays and get a chuckle out of watching the Doomsday Prophets. There are times when they are as funny as the Cable Guy.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2012 John B. Payne, Attorney

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