People tend to look at New York as one big city. Sometimes the image includes some brief glimpse of suburbs. In reality, upper New York State covers a lot of rural territory, miles of farm country. I was born about halfway between Syracuse and Rochester. I never saw New York City until I was in my late teens. That visit was part of a college activity.
One thing I noticed was how people in New York City crossed the street. It was a different game than almost any other place I had lived. In later brief stays I noticed the same thing.
In busier parts of the city, there is a constant contest between pedestrians and drivers. It is a little like a game of chicken. Motorists are motivated. Those in a hurry get impatient at waiting for lines of those on foot to get clear of an intersection. They often try inching through the sea of those walking. If they can make it through, they can shave precious minutes off a commute. They just don't want to hit anyone.
Pedestrians have an incentive as well. They know that if one car gets through, those inching behind will feel safe in following, if it can be done before the tide of humanity-in-a-hurry closes in. And then there will be the next car, then the next and the next. But if those walking in the crosswalk can make it through without getting blocked by that first driver, they can get to work on time.
And so it goes. Drivers try to get through quickly without hitting someone and pedestrians try to get through quickly without getting hit.
If things go right, one side loses, the other wins. If things go wrong, everyone loses. Pedestrians lose life, the drivers lose liberty, and both lose happiness.
I got interested in who wins and who loses if things go right.
Pedestrians have more to lose, right? But they usually, not always, but usually, win.
Pedestrians win by looking the other way. Most don't do that immediately. They gauge the situation through surreptitious glances and judging the movements of others on foot. But they make sure all the driver sees is someone determined not to see any danger. Not seeing any danger, once they know the driver is looking, reduces their danger, the danger they are determined not to see.
Every once in a while I did see someone on foot lose. Maybe these were out-of-towners. Maybe they came from upstate, like me. Maybe they were simply unskilled in this type of anonymous negotiation. Their common weakness was that they paid attention. And they could be seen to pay attention. The nervous looks let drivers know they could win by pushing on ahead.
If pedestrians could see what was happening, they would jump out of the way, and a driver could break through. If they were obviously committed, looking the other way, what was a driver to do, except wait?
In all but the last year of President Obama's first term, Republicans did what no Congress ever did before. They threatened the American economy, holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to their demands. The administration, like out-of-town visitors to the big city, worried aloud about the consequences. They offered concessions and promises of more concessions before negotiations started.
And Congress pushed ahead.
Things began to change last year. Obama began pushing back. Republicans demanded a postponement of sorts. They constructed a fiscal cliff that included dramatic tax increases and cuts to programs. The cuts attacked the elderly, little kids, the disabled, and the Department of Defense. Republicans hated the increase in taxes, at least those that would hit the very rich. And they hated the cuts in military spending.
Defense spending has gotten a little insane. The US spends more on military armaments than the rest of the world combined. We are prepared to fight a war against every country in the world simultaneously, including countries that have always been our friends and always will be. That's kind of crazy.
But Republicans are largely funded by military contractors who build weapons systems to conduct an arms race with the USSR, a country that has not existed for over twenty years.
Republicans kind of liked attacks on the elderly, little kids, and the disabled. They didn't much mind tax increases on the working poor and the middle class. But military reductions and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans were intolerable.
So the plan was to create consequences that would be intolerable for everyone. Then Republicans could hold the economy hostage after winning the Presidency and the Senate. If they were negotiating with President Romney, all would be well.
The plan got a little screwed up by an unexpected election loss. President Obama won big. Democrats increased their Senate majority. Republicans lost house seats. Even though Republicans kept a majority of seats, they lost a majority of votes. They won by gerrymander. Democratic candidates got about a million votes more than Republicans did.
So President Obama won the fiscal cliff negotiations. That left the "debt ceiling" which was actually a vote on whether to pay our bills.
That's when the President got bolder.
He declared that Republicans holding the economy hostage to put into place policies Americans had rejected was not going to happen. There would be no negotiations.
Now Republicans look to be retreating on paying our bills. They have gotten the worst of all worlds. They are, in front of God and Country, attacking the middle class, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, and little kids. So they look evil. And even worse, they are losing. So they look like evil losers.
Improbably, the new plan is to pay our bills only for three months. Then Republicans will approach the same intersection. Again. Using the same tactics. Again. Attacking the same targets. Again. The President continues to insist that he will not negotiate on paying bills already incurred. If the Republican House damages the economy, it will not be as a result of negotiation. They will make that decision on their own.
The President is winning. He is winning the way New York City pedestrians have been winning since automobiles were invented.
He is looking the other way.
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“He (Obama) declared that Republicans holding the economy hostage to put into place policies Americans had rejected was not going to happen. There would be no negotiations.”
Indeed! Obama’s solution is to basically shoot the hostage. That is precisely what he is doing to our economy. But all of the self-interested and selfish people that want more from the all-knowing and beneficent government via the “evil rich” have spoken. After all, we cannot starve that patient, can we? After all, there are evidently a majority of Americans that can now no longer function and provide for themselves without the help of the socialists… errr, I mean progressives providing things to them with money we do not have. It’s a good thing we can always print more money though. What could possibly go wrong? I don’t recommend looking at history for the answer. You won’t like what you see, if you were to remove those progressive glasses and look with some semblance of objectivity anyway.
I am not certain which is the commemoration of the more depressing and frightening event: the second inauguration of the worst president in the history of the republic once again today, or marking the milestone of over 55 million abortions with the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade tomorrow. Both somehow both seem appropriate for these dark times.
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