Going broke fast is a very compelling problem. For ordinary people it tends to induce chicken-with-no-head syndrome - a mad burst of pointless locomotion ending in sudden collapse. If the US debt ceiling is raised - which I think is a 90 percent bet - there will be a sigh of relief that resounds from the lobster pounds of Penobscot Bay to the parking lots of Silicon Valley... and poor dissolving America will still be stuck in its essential predicament of being broke. So a lot of pointless locomotion will continue in the form of positioning among a troop of clown candidates for the dumbshow of the 2012 election. I wonder lately whether that election will actually happen.
Europe is arguably worse off money-wise, more broke, flimsier, crapped out, crippled, and paralyzed. Sad, because in outward appearance Europe is - how shall I put this? - better turned out than America. Europe is a fit, silver-haired gentleman in a sleek Italian suit and a pair of Michael Toschi swing lace wingtips, holding a serious-looking Chiarugi leather briefcase. America is pear-shaped blob of semi-formed male flesh, in ankle-length cargo shorts, a black T-shirt featuring skull motifs, tattoos randomly assigned (as if by lottery) to visible flesh, a Sluggo buzz-cut, and a low-rider sports cap designed to make your head look flat. In other words, he lacks a certain savoir-faire compared to his European cousin. But both are broke. Neither has any idea what he will do next - though, for the American, it will probably involve the ingestion of melted cheese or drugs (or both). When the European collapses, a certain air of delicacy will attend his demise; the expired American will go up in flames in a trailer and they'll have to sort out his remains from the melted goop of his dwelling-place with a front-end loader.
This is the way the world ends for the OECD, the nations that affected to be developed and civilized. This phase of globalism is certainly not the end of history, but it is looking like the end of accounting tricks, and possibly democracy, which has discredited itself with accounting tricks. At a certain point in time, the sickening recognition sets in that appearances are not the same as reality - and then, all of a sudden, you're in a political maelstrom. Citizens of the various lands will discover that the money being argued over, shifted around from column A to column B, assigned to this or that actuarial table or budget line or account or obligation or vault or "structured vehicle"- that money is just... not... there. There's no money. It was pretend money. From now on, none of you will get paid. Imagine a world where nobody gets paid.
Europe has run the money string to its bitter end and now it just remains to be seen how each country blows up and where the dust settles. Greece and Portugal may just shrug and retire on an economy based on goat-cheese and olives. Ireland will get drunk and pass out for at least a century. Spain sinks back into an age-old catatonic daze, having gone broke spectacularly once before. Italy strings up Mr. Berlusconi on a lamp-post and breaks up into 112 warring city-states. France elects DSK, whose first act is to declare war on the City of New York. Religious wars leave England in embers. And Germany becomes the world's first "green" police state.
It's conceivable to me that Barack Obama may be the last president - for a while. He was a decent fellow but, in the end, ineffectual, and of course he got no help from the legislative branch, including especially colleagues in his own party, a most remarkable class of maundering chickenshits and grifters. Our money problems will not go away and after a while this land will not be governable by familiar means. In case you haven't noticed, the rule of law is already AWOL in many sectors of our national life, most particularly money matters, but before long on every street-corner, every highway strip, plus every GMO cornfield, and brownfield. The two parties are unreformable and the Tea Party is the stooge of one of the two parties, and there is no other party of earnest, decisive, and sane individuals anywhere near the horizon. So some kind of convulsion is in the cards and it will be the unfortunate duty of some dutiful officer to step in and set an agenda based on something other than bluster, fakery, and pocket pool.
While there's a good chance the US debt ceiling will be extended, it seems to me that meanwhile we have crossed an invisible line into a place where untoward things happen.