Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

The tree of compromise

Jerry Stratton, April 15, 2011

A little afterthought about the budget compromise. A long time ago, in an ancient century, I wrote a book called The Shopping Cart Graveyard; the kids, a soldier, and a talking bear end up on the Planet of the Politicians, where they learn the importance of compromise and moderation:

“We’re here, kids,” said Raphael. “Welcome to the Planet of the Politicians.”

The planet was covered in lights, flashing like a distant city.

“It is a distant city,” said Raphael.

“The whole fucking planet?” asked Leroy. “Do these guys have a hate thing going against plants?”

“No,” said Raphael. “They love plants. You can’t get elected if you’re not environmentally sensitive. They have laws that protect all of the remaining plant life on the planet.”

“Remaining plant life?” asked Leroy. “Where the hell is it?”

“There isn’t much left,” said Raphael. “Every year the environmentalists compromise with the logging industry and let the industry take 10% of the remaining forest and protect the remaining 90%. It’s a good compromise, because it’s better than 50-50 for the environmentalists. Last year, the logging industry got enough wood out of that 10% to make a toothpick. It went for the equivalent of 30,000 of your dollars on the open market.”

“What do they expect to make this year?”

“A smaller toothpick,” said Raphael.

“Why don’t they refuse to compromise?”

“Extremists are not electable,” Raphael said, and shrugged.

Getting more than the other guy doesn’t always work. It might slow the inevitable, but if you’re about to drive over a cliff, to borrow a metaphor from our president, any compromise between driving over the cliff and stopping is still driving over the cliff. If you don’t want to drive over the cliff, you can’t compromise. You have to stop.

The cry now is that the “real fight” will be over raising the debt ceiling, or over the 2012 fiscal year budget. For politicians, the real fight is always yet to come. They always want to put off the hard choices until tomorrow. Unless we force them to make the hard choice today, they never will make it. And we’ll be plummeting over that cliff.

In response to Blogs blowup bipartisan Boehner budget: A hundred million here, a hundred million there, but the billions don’t happen until Tuesday.