autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

My letter to District 9 Representative, Adam Smith

(Delivered via email in response to his unfortunate decision to spam me without being asked to do so.)

Representative Smith,

As a resident of Hillman City for the last three years, I have been a little more lax than usual in relation to staying in touch with what is happening in my home district and in DC. This reminded me to look and I’m kind of glad it did, even as what I see has me wondering what you consider representation of my interests.

Specifically, your decision to author and introduce H.R. 4512. The cynic in me ponders “looking good” to the home district for trying to keep federal dollars flowing to their pockets (and yes, actually, I do know and understand the struggle behind that desire on their part as well as yours). The pragmatist recognizes and nods to the reality of authoring and submitting a bill that probably is too hot a potato right now to make it out of committee. The idealist is a bit perturbed that you would want any part of your political legacy associated with YET ANOTHER ducking of responsibility by congress in relation to this runaway spending and increasingly volatile economic bubble.

Genuinely, I ask you:

How long will congress insist upon passing this buck to future generations?

How long will congress promise anything to get funding, only to renege the moment that difficult decisions must be made?

How long will our representatives persist in using committees to duck their legislative duty to more than business as usual?

Mind you, I am no Republican. Nor independent. Nor, frankly, Democrat. I am a resident of Washington State, a Citizen of this United States of America. What other label do I need? Particularly when they only divide and stymie progress?

Can I just tell you how utterly worn OUT I am from the intellectual weight of knowing that every, single, special interest in existence is being put ahead of my own? Of my children? Of THEIR children?

Yes, certainly, were money trees in existence and access thereto not immediately bound by armies of the many world’s nations, I would say “Onward! Care not for the death of sustainability in governance! We are infinitely able to invest!”

You and I both know that isn’t true. Frankly, I am sickened of the disservice being done by handing away tomorrow’s budget dollars to satisfy today’s apparently insatiable hunger.

What solution have all these many billions over time made? Where is the plan that puts the need to rob our grandchildren of bread so their parents and grandparents may have it today? How is it that the insanity of this remains so sanctified? Are we not to care until we are diminished as, say, Puerto Rico?

Just as this world and climate have been abused and suborned to the point of no return, so too our national balance, responsibility, and more pressingly, accountability. Here, in your district, it is a crime to write checks you haven’t the money to pay; here at home, when you are so deep into debt and so reliably unable to meet even the most gracious, lenient terms, you do not see irresponsible lending practices. It does not require rocket science to realize that these are all but new layers of commodities being trades upon a market of influence, power, and control.

When I raised my daughter, I introduced her to the concept of “credit” when the author of “Curious George” telefilm books died; naturally, as soon as it was known (and the defense rested at trial), an anthology of the stories in a bright, yellow hardback over which kids simply drooled, my daughter included, was released.

She was about 10; old enough to do chores and smart enough to believe in her own worth enough to insist she be paid for her “labor”. So, agreed, an allowance paid at $3 a week stipulated that her chores were complete to my satisfaction. At the time, she had saved $15 and feeling rather “flush”. We roamed the mall as she agonized over what to spend her “riches” upon. Then, she saw the book.

“Oh my gosh, Mom!” She called from just inside the store, “They have it!” I nodded and smiled, having already noted the $30 price tag and realizing there was a teaching opportunity at hand. I was waiting for her to realize the problem. It didn’t take long; she rushed to me as crestfallen as a diabetic at a chocolate festival, “I don’t have enough for it.”

“Ouch.” I sympathized. And then, as if it had only occurred, “You know… I think I may know a way for you to have that book today. Would you like to learn about credit?”

She was jumping up and down, grinning, “YES!” If you have kids, then you know how good it feels to have a solution for your kids when they’re disappointed. I suppose that’s pretty relevant an analogy to my plaint, too. Anyway, I proceeded to explain that, in exchange for handing her the $15 (plus tax) to get the book immediately, she would forfeit her allowance for 5 weeks, but still have to do the chores. After that, her debit of credit was repaid and she would again receive allowance.

Naturally, she was agreeing to terms without really paying much attention to them. She was moments away from getting what she wanted right now! Who cared about five weeks from now, right?

She read the book in a single sitting, that night. The next  morning at breakfast, she asked, “Mom, could you show me on the calendar when I get my allowance again?” I dutifully pulled out the calendar and we counted them off aloud, together. She looked up from the calendar sadly, “Wow. That’s a really long time not to get any allowance.” I shook my head, “Oh, you’re still getting it; you’re just having to turn right around and give it back to me. It happens so fast you don’t even realize you ever held the money in your hand.”

She shrugged her shoulders, not amused, “I don’t think I like this credit stuff.” My internal “OH YEAH!” was pretty nice. I grinned to her and replied, “You should be happy I didn’t teach you about interest yet.” Her insatiable curiosity brought exactly the question I wanted, “What is interest?”

I looked down to her, “Well, it’s when I charge you a little bit extra as a service charge for doing you the favor of giving you the money to get what you wanted right then.” The look she gave me was comical, but what she said was pure gold, “You DIDN’T do me any FAVORS!!” Her little face all squished up in indignation, she continued, “I could have saved that up on my own or doing extra chores! I could have probably gotten it on SALE!”

My nod of agreement was kerosene on that fire and it made me laugh as she all but hollered, “That wasn’t a FAVOR.”

So, you see, I know that you know this isn’t doing ANYONE any favors. Not even yourself, for all I’m certain there has to be a lot of wink wink, nudge nudge that happens “on the hill”.

You said you wanted to hear from me. Very well, I hope you genuinely hear this:

Don’t ruin my daughter’s future. Don’t ruin my grand-daughter’s future. Don’t ruin the future of the children in this district by continuing to pretend that money grows on trees; stop acting like, until the moment it explodes under us, the bomb of unrestricted spending doesn’t exist.

We’re all smarter than that, even if we don’t like admitting it. But if people don’t start admitting it and doing something about it soon, we’ll all suffer… that will make what’s happening in Puerto Rico right now look like a kindergarten party.