The Debt Ceiling Argument is the Wrong Conversation

While we have been arguing about how many more trillions to borrow - and spend as fast as we can - based on the asinine premise that taking on more debt should be reassuring about our solvency, reports in The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere have painted a picture of Afghan bureaucrats, contractors and bankers daily boarding airplanes with suitcases stuffed with tens of millions of dollars of our cash. More than $2-billion of U.S. money intended for Afghan construction has been funneled right to the Taliban, and U.S. Treasury agents at the Afghan central bank abandoned attempts to auditing because "the working conditions there have become too hostile."


In simple terms, our supposed ally is giving us the finger, stealing our money, conspiring with our enemies, and laughing at what morons we are. Regrettably this story has gotten more ink than airtime on TV, where our government leaders can be directly questioned about their criminal negligence with our money, and made to sweat and stammer and reveal their fecklessness on camera.


Sure, it's a financial molehill compared to our $14-trillion to $70-trillion (if you count all unfunded obligations) black hole of our debt. And solving the Afghan situation makes no significant contribution in and of itself. But there are a lot of molehills.


Beyond that, there is the absolute immorality of putting our men and women in harm's way to benefit a nation whose propped-up-by-us government is stealing and sanctioning theft of our money and handing some of it to our enemy. There is the absolute immorality of asking anybody to pay more taxes while our government permits such thievery abroad. For that matter, the government permits an acknowledged umpteen-hundred billion of waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.


Open any day's newspaper at random and you can find criminal negligence and incompetence in government's handling of our money. The government into which we are pouring ever greater sums of money is a boat with more leaks than boat. A sieve. And, just as the Afghan government laughs at the U.S. while stealing our money, I'm afraid our own government is laughing at you and me while stealing and wasting our money.


A few weeks back, the president had a good chuckle, brazenly public, about his shovel-ready projects not being as shovel-ready as he thought. Funny, huh? In the midst of this crisis, he's readying for a luxury vacation in the Hamptons. I don't begrudge him the vacation. I begrudge him the presidency and his disdain for his sworn responsibilities. But he's not alone here. It seems to me the entire bunch of them, Democrats and Republicans, are, by slightly different paths always headed in the same directions: taking more and more from us, borrowing more and more from others, weakening America with each confiscation and each borrowed dollar - engaged in financial treason.


This so-called debt limit crisis has been a comic opera of competing schemes, backroom negotiations and public, political posturing, with media providing its stage and dragging in its audience. But everyone has been engaged in entirely the wrong conversation.


The only sane conversation foregoes borrowing even a penny more, and focuses on how and how fast our financial house can be put in order and government can discard all costly tomfoolery and competently do its most essential jobs. Until it stops failing at its essential jobs, it shouldn't be fed a penny more with which to do more. The question to each of our political leaders jockeying for more money to spend should be: how dare you even toy with pushing us deeper in debt while all this waste, fraud and failure is going on, on your watch?


How insulting their conversation is. We're going to borrow $2 trillion. Let's discuss what we might cut now or someday, mostly someday - say $4-trillion, but that really doesn't matter because just a year or at most two down the road we'll raise the debt limit yet again. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the Treasury's debt is being bought and held by the Fed, not real investors. It's a 3-card monte game. The little ball of debt moved from left pocket to right then left again.


How immoral and treasonous their actions are. Borrowing to fund theft. Using threats of denying Social Security, Medicare, military pay to intimidate Americans into ultimately wanting them to conspire on yet one more financial fraud, making us all complicit in it.


Woody Allen once joked that his money manager managed his money until there was no money left to manage. We have an entire army of managers of our money - housed at the White House, the Capitol, countless government agencies' offices - that has long ago exhausted all our money and now manages smoke 'n mirrors. Unlike Woody's money manager, ours lacks the decency to leave.