The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I live in South Florida. The locals have a saying that describes this place and at least some of the people who populate it: “A sunny place for shady people.” Shady people come in many packages—con artists, Ponzi scheme merchants, people with ties to the criminal underworld, and one group that is more benign, but no less despicable. I’ll call them “posers.”

A poser is someone who spends money he or she doesn’t have. He does so in a profligate manner, with no concern about how the money is to be paid back. The poser must have a Ferrari (or Bentley), must have a 10,000 square foot house on the water, must visit Tiffany weekly, must have $4,000 suits ... you get the picture. For the poser, spending money is the only thing that makes him feel good about himself.

And when the bills come due, the poser borrows still more money to pay for them. In a way, it’s a localized Ponzi scheme that ultimately crumbles once all of the sources of borrowing (or in some cases, criminal activity) run dry. Posers are like spoiled children. They want something and they grab it, never thinking of the long-term consequences.

It follows, therefore, that those of us who live in SoFla have learned to spot the posers among us and shake our heads as we watch them slowly self-destruct.

Oddly, as I watch the news coming out of our nation’s capital, I now believe that we’re watching another group of posers—a Congress of Posers. Driven by an ideological fervor to fix everything that’s “wrong” with our country and the planet, our poser-politicians are gripped by a spending frenzy.

A trillion dollars in stimulus money—not a problem. We need to buy jobs (and votes). Another trillion dollars for healthcare—no problem. We need to create a new entitlement that will cost additional trillions down the line. Hundreds of billions more for education, giveaways for social security recipients (i.e., if the social security COLA was computed as zero this year, why on earth give each recipient a $250 dollar check?), and similar projects.

Our political posers are like spoiled children. spending without concern and borrowing to cover their irresponsible actions. In the past when a Congress began to act in a childlike fashion, the President played the adult—slapping the Congress’s hand with vetoes and reigning in irresponsible impulses. But today, President Obama seems to be the poser-in-chief. His words are sometimes (only sometimes) those of a responsible adult, but his actions are more in line with the political posers.

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial discusses the consequences:
To cover the deficit in the short run, the United States will have to continue borrowing from foreign and domestic creditors. To pay back the $12 trillion national debt in the long run will present two unsatisfactory alternatives -- saddling young Americans with mountains of debt and taxes and letting inflation blossom so that the real size of the debt diminishes over time. Neither is fair, and the problem with inflation is it hits the working person, the one whose wages lag and whose expenses don't.

Another option, though, is to cut back, starting with the two wars, congressional earmarks and other spending. That's the one that makes sense.

But posers don’t apply common sense to anything. Instead, they borrow and spend until they crash.