Fiscal Cliffs and Cocoa Puffs

In the old days, economic crises were organic events that reflected popular greed, economic instability and tangible fear. Speculative bubbles burst, bank depositors panicked and stock markets (and stockbrokers) plunged. No more. We have grown too sophisticated for all that.


Our economy has reached a degree of complexity that its crises must be planned, packaged and marketed just like Cocoa Puffs.

What’s in a name? The “Fiscal Cliff” is not a natural escarpment, it is a wholly man-made monument to the failure of our political class to fix a problem that they created. Congress’s bipartisan solution is a game of chicken which the Republicans lost when the Democrats dreamed up “Fiscal Cliff”.

“Quantitative Easing” is a bureaucratic euphemism used by a government which has evil designs on the monetary assets of its subjects citizens. “Quantitative Easing – A Little Dab’ll Do Ya.

To be better prepared for the next man-made crisis, the Republicans need to take the lead in framing – marketing! – these events.

Even the dim bulbs of the media like Soledad O’Brien or Piers Morgan would immediately grok John Boehner’s meaning were he to stentoriously intone a catchy phrase like”Debt Tsunami”.

“Tsunami”, like “cliff”, is an emotionally charged word. Emotionally charged words are powerful: they motivate people to act out of fear, without thinking. Especially politicians.


Other good, emotionally charged panic words: Hiroshima, Armageddon, Abyss, Chasm,  Volcano, Apocalypse, Avalanche, Tornado, Hurricane, Whirlwind, Cyclone, Typhoon, Time Bomb, IED, Land Mine, Guillotine, Ambush, Cataclysm, Precipice.

With a good enough name, the substance of an issue hardly matters. Future panics might include “The Health Care Volcano”, “The Student Loan Apocalypse”, or “The Dental Insurance Land Mine”.

There’s too much at stake to trust our economy to responsible, rational adults. Who’s with me on this?

Unexpurgated version at



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