It is never a bad thing to be looking ahead at all times, but this time of year is commonly spent looking back. Usually in a nostalgic light we spend the last few weeks of the Christian calendar reminding ourselves of all the good we’ve done or trials we’ve over come. Yet the image of a nation and possible the world falling off a Fiscal Cliff keeps our eyes plastered on the road ahead, especially since the world didn’t end. In an economic sense, what hurts the most is it prevents people from staying in the present.
The present is where things are bought, where consumers spend money. It just so happens that the time in which the cliff looms the most is right at the biggest time of year for retailer. The thought in many minds over the holiday shopping season could have been “I’d better not” instead of “why not, it comes once a year.” Retailers are feeling the pinch. It is hard to place the blame on any one cause, but it is obvious that doomsday rhetoric on the issue isn’t helping. How many more times is the news going to tell its viewers that taxes might go up for everyone?
No matter how the debate on the Fiscal Cliff works out, it is clear that the future is going to be different than it was in the past and in the present. Whether there are budget cuts or tax hikes, the money is coming from somewhere and soon. Many would like to see the American political tradition of compromise prevail. The whole point of the current fiscal mess was written a way that would force law makers to compromise, even if it happens as the ball drops. Maybe congress should have been wiser than to create a doomsday device and wait like a sort of partisan game of chicken.
The light at the end of the tunnel, or should I say the bridge that spans the canyon, focuses on one thing. The nation has a debt problem, and it needs to be fixed. Not exactly the most opportune time and worrisome because it is not exactly like the economy is at the peak of prosperity. As a country, and as a congress, America needs to figure out what is really worth holding on to and what can be given up. One thing that cannot be given up is the same thing that compromise seeks to hold onto, and that is America itself.
The country seems to have become so polarized that even the tragedy in Newtown spawns another age old debate. Debate is only part of this system of governing, which we call democracy. Actually coming up with something that works for all people is the other part. The purpose of this system is to find compromise, which leads to political stability and then to economic stability. This is how to grow a national economy with certainty and not with fear. Previous economic fear must have seemed like a force of nature, which needed to be fought with the goodness of mankind. The current fear all seems to be made by people, and it is people that must find the strength to change the course of fiscal policy.