PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. — It seemed like a good idea at the time. After Christmas, my wife, Betsy, and I planned to head south to this lovely barrier island in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Our plan included celebrating New Year’s quietly with as many of our kids, their kids and our friends as possible and then returning to Virginia.
It was supposed to be the antithesis of Times Square. Like so many of the best-laid plans of mice and men, it didn’t turn out quite as expected.
Only six of our grandchildren made the trek south, because so many of them had this year’s version of Spanish influenza, bubonic plague or both. The kickoff for 2013 didn’t turn out much better for the rest of our countrymen. The new year is now under way — and if the next 51 weeks go anything like the first episode, this 13th annum of the 21st century is going to be a doozy.
As we kissed off 2012 with a sip of Champagne, the U.S. Congress was in the process of raising our taxes. Politicians from both parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate told us they were making “Bush-era tax cuts permanent” for “99 percent of Americans” while increasing taxes on “the top 1 percent.”
Within hours of 2013’s beginning, the potentates of pork on the Potomac were congratulating themselves on how they had “taken care of our revenue problem” and saved us from plunging over the “fiscal cliff.”
At this point, you should insert the word that farmers use for what comes out of the back end of a male bovine.
Indeed, taxes will go up for Americans making more than $400,000 per year. They also will rise for all the rest of us who work and pay taxes.
Federal spending likewise will continue to increase. The geniuses in our Congress also found ways in the same bill to hand government money to Hollywood movie producers, “green” motorcycle enthusiasts, windmill-makers and the distillers of Puerto Rican rum.
Nothing was done to address the catastrophic federal deficit, the tsunami of debt that will drown our children or the looming collapse of the U.S. dollar when it becomes impossible for our government to pay for its unfunded liabilities.
According to the Obama White House and the solons on Capitol Hill, we will deal with all those things in the future. In other words, they kicked that can down the road.
Unfortunately, the new year has given us a highway covered with cans, many the size of anvils — and about as easy to kick.
Without mixing too many metaphors, our fiscal calamity is just the tip of the 2013 iceberg; we’re all aboard the Titanic, and it’s the ninth inning of the Super Bowl.