When I was very young, around 5 or 6 years old, my brother and I were left alone in a 1980 Chevette at the top of a driveway. The driveway faced away from an unprotected cliff; one could walk right up to the edge and see down every inch of the 75 foot drop to the parking lot below.
My brother, wanting to play race car driver (in a Chevette? Really?), jumped into the driver's seat, while I sat in the hatch back, one of my favorite places to sit while being driven around. It was quite a different time than we're in now.
My brother had managed to knock the car out of gear, and we started rolling backward toward the cliff. I was the first to realize what was going on, but unfortunately I was also privy to front row seating to what may very well have been the end of the world for my brother and I.
So, it turns out, our worlds didn't end. My brother and I survived what looked like almost certain death with very little injury at all. I've some scars, my brother's one scar healed and disappeared over the years, and neither one of us remembers the event.
Now I hear there's another cliff approaching, and it makes me wonder if we're in all that much trouble, seeing as how I've been over one before. Having experienced danger and survived nearly unscathed often makes one braver in the face of the same danger, but also more wary. There's a lot of talk of a cliff in the news these days, and I, for one, am very wary of what's coming.
The United States, in its rise through its Industrial Revolution, two World Wars and several other scarring events, including the indelible marks of terror in Oklahoma City and on 9-11, has weathered every one of these events with courage and resolute dignity. It may be that we're unable to see the danger associated with our present condition due to our ability to withstand our past tragedies, but, based on what I'm reading and hearing from those who take our Nation's fiscal condition very seriously, we will not be able to weather this "Fiscal Cliff" and continue to be the United States we've known.
There are two directions being discussed to address our Nation's fiscal condition, but neither one of them actually addresses the problem. As a doctor will treat the cause of the symptoms instead of simply medicating away the symptoms, so must Congress and the President address the cause of our fiscal destruction instead of simply salving the symptoms. Our Nation can ill afford to continue failing to meet its obligations in a way that doesn't expose our citizens to the irresponsibility of passed Congressional malfeasance.
We've spent our way into a sealed tomb. While the "Full Faith and Credit of the United States Government" still means something, we need to cauterize the wound that bleeds our Nation out, address how to pay for our previous largess, and bind our Nation's financial future to a balanced budget that will only allow for borrowing in times of dire need, instead of using borrowing to fund the majority of our Federal Government's activities, many of which are not legitimate in terms of our spending is concerned.
Until we do something about our Government's insatiable appetite for our money, present and future, borrowed and otherwise, there will be no way to back away from the "Fiscal Cliff". There will be no way to build a bridge far enough to get us over the chasm, and there will be no way to keep us from seeing the suicide of the greatest experiment in self governance humanity has ever known. Our founders knew this day would come, and they told us as such during the Nation's founding. Why have we failed to heed their warnings?
A better question... How much longer will we be allowed to ignore their warnings before things are so far gone we're not able to recover?