Fiscal Cliff Climbing

I don’t think I am going to say anything that everybody doesn’t already know.  But, it will just make me feel better to vent.  Here goes.  This is no way to run a government.  Letting all the important decisions wait until the very last minute and then slapping something together.  Things cobbled together in such a fashion are really poorly done.

I fault both sides.  Each side trying their damnedest to get the better of the other side.  Isn’t anybody interested in what’s best for our country?  Let me add a new word to the equation that hasn’t been heard for a while – compromise.  That’s how things get done.  “But it’s the principle of the thing.”  “No new taxes, no new taxes.”  I love it.  Where’s Dr. Phil when we need him?

I’m afraid I know what’s going to happen and it’s the same old same old.  Kick the can down the road.  Congress will submit some stop gap measure that will move the problem farther out into the future.  Then, they will all accuse the other side of being the blame.  Geeze.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that all congressmen are idiots.  I think Weiner was a pretty bright guy.  It just happened that his moral compass was pointed toward Antarctica.  First bright, then annoying, then gone.  I liked the gone part the best!  Others are brilliant, but have no common sense.  Some are truly the real deal, but when they get together, they suffer from group think.  I saw it at GM – GM think, and I saw it in the Army – Army think.  I can define it, but I’ll just give you an example.

Just prior to my arrival in Germany in 1983, we had an armored division commanding general holding meetings throughout the division telling everyone how they should conduct themselves if called as a witness in a drug case.  Clearly command influence.  Clearly illegal.  But the commander was a two star and everyone was backing him.  Hey, drugs were a big problem and the rank and file needed to know what he thought.  Then, way down the road, the Court of Military Appeals threw out many of the convictions because of the general’s command influence.  The general was relieved of his command and a message (back channel) went out to the senior leadership of the Army explaining the general’s misconduct.  Army think uniformly flipped.  Every senior officer I talked to condemned the general for what he had done.  Army think had done a 180.  Yesterday, the general was a dedicated officer who had been misunderstood.  Today, he was a loose cannon. 

In Congress, even the real deals suffer from group think when their fellow congressmen are in lock step and they have little choice.  No one wants to be a contrarian.  That would cause them to stand out and get bad exposure.  They could lose their job.  My, my, my.

I worked for a general by the name of Larry Williams who was a legend in the JAG Corps.  We called him Big Daddy and I wrote a poem in honor of his 75th birthday that you can find filed under “Military Daze.”  With great imagination, I entitled it “Big Daddy’s Seventy-Fifth.”  He had served under General Creighton Abrams many years before.  General Williams used to quote General Abrams who said, “It’s amazing what can be accomplished if you do not care who gets the credit.”  I looked up the quote on the internet and it was attributed to Harry Truman.  But, I guess if they meant what they said, they wouldn’t care to whom it was attributed.

I am convinced that “Fiscal Cliff” problem could be solved quickly if nobody cared who got the credit.  My experience tells me that when things truly get desperate, they’ll be solved.  I also believe in the Easter Bunny.

I sure hope I finish and get this thing published before they solve the problem.  Being late would be a real bummer.  My article would be irrelevant before it was published and I couldn’t take credit for solving the problem.  Then, I would have to go to Plan B.

Written by PJ Rice at

One thought on “Fiscal Cliff Climbing”

  1. Someone once said: “Sometimes you have to rise above principle and get practical. That is a little shorter than your Quip and not as much fun, but we are in agreement.


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