Kimball: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Poor House

Two-point-four trillion dollars:


Take a minute to visualize it. You can’t, you know: it’s simply too big a number. But take a minute to try.

Dazzled yet? You should be. Two-point-four trillion dollars: It’s the largest hike of the debt ceiling in history, but, hey, that’s no reason for the House not to celebrate and cheer. They passed the buck. President Obama, too, can breathe a sigh of release: he doesn’t have to think about raising the “debt ceiling” again until 2013, after the next election. (Query: what does the word “ceiling” add to the word “debt”? Intrinsically, nothing; but by adding a neutral word to a negative you accomplish an important psychological feat: you soften, mellow, calm people who might otherwise concentrate exclusively on the nasty word “debt.”)

As I’ve had occasion to observe before in this space (“Alfred E. Neuman is in the driver’s seat“). That philosopher furnished the perfect motto for our spendthrift masters in Washington: “What, me worry?”


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