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“Gravity” in Washington — Not Gravitas

Written by Gary North on October 16, 2013

I went to see “Gravity.” It is one of the great cinematic experiences ever. It is to this generation what “Destination Moon” was in 1950 — and with one of the same scenes: the use of compressed gas to propel a person in space. (See it at 54 minutes.)

The movie hinges on a catastrophe: a break-up of the satellite belt by flying debris. That threat has been known for over 30 years. It is called the Kessler effect. Statistically, it is going to happen at some point, unless some technological solution is implemented. It comes because of the attempt of governments to deny this law of economics: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Space is not a free dumping ground. At some point it will fill up enough to create a chain reaction of junk. It will destroy communications satellites. As George Clooney says in the movie, Americans will lose access to Facebook — the ultimate catastrophe, I guess.

This week, the politicians are once again trying to deny economics. They are seeking another round of free lunches by hiking the federal government’s debt ceiling. This way, the Federal Reserve System will be able to buy $1 trillion a year in IOUs issued by the federal government. That is Washington’s version of the free lunch. Quantitative easing does not hike consumer prices, we are assured. Also, it keeps long-term interest rates down . . . or did until May of this year.

Then, without warning, in mid-May, long-term rates started rising: Treasury bonds and mortgages.

Also in mid-May, the Treasury Department began cooking the books to conceal the fact that the federal government had crashed through the official debt ceiling — rather like the Soviet union’s blowing up a satellite in “Gravity,” which triggered the chain reaction of space debris. Think of both as “extraordinary measures.”

In “Gravity,” NASA tells the temporary residents in outer space that the cloud of debris will hit them in a matter of minutes. They have to get back to earth. But they don’t have enough time. They get hit. Then, like clockwork, they will be hit every 90 minutes, until the debris finally enters earth’s gravity and is burned up.

That reminds me of Congress. It is frantically trying not to be hit by fiscal debris, scheduled for October 17. Unlike NASA in the movie, the guy at “mission control” at the Treasury, Secretary Lew, says that he is not sure that the impact will hit on October 17. It may be longer. It all depends on his book-cooking efforts to hide the fact that the federal government crashed through the debt ceiling on May 17.

In the movie, the voice of mission control is provided by Ed Harris, resurrecting his role in “Apollo 13.” This time, however, he is not confident of a resolution to the “problem.” He reminds me of Secretary Lew.

We are told that the Senate will work it out soon. We are told that the House will work it out soon. Movies always turn out well in the end.

It will all work out well, as long as we assume this: there really are such a things as a free lunches — in outer space and in Washington, D.C. “Kessler effect? It’s a myth. Perpetual debt ceiling hikes? No problem. Quantitative easing with no price increases? Why not?” For Washington politics, that’s gravitas.

But the Keynesian fiscal and monetary debris in Washington will eventually become a chain reaction. That’s when you will want to be in a higher orbit — or a lower one.

Paraphrasing Jim Lovell: “Washington, we have a problem.” Washington is the problem.

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6 thoughts on ““Gravity” in Washington — Not Gravitas

  1. CrustyOldGeezer says:

    Name a problem that this nation is, or has, suffered through and I can show you incompetent(at best) or(more likely) CORRUPT politicians that directly caused the problem.

    The technology exists to KEEP THEM HOME at 'telecommute' with all other representatives and senator.

    That way, the People they are supposed to be representing can keep an eye on them every day.

    Sit in their outer offices and see who goes in, how often, and who they play golf with.

    Mini-theaters where the People can watch and listen to all the committee meetings and dealings with other congress critters in every local office with "Public Access channels" that carry both senate and house committee 'meetings'.

  2. I’ve come to the conclusion that Keynesianism is more of a religion than a theory. If government is our omniscient and omnipotent Messiah what can go wrong? Borrow and spend ad infinitum.

  3. Wall Street should wake up and get their heads out of their POLITICKING CONFETTI FIAT HOLE. JUST KEEP. PRINTING THE FEDS WORTHLESS distorted currency . Besides when has a Ponzi scheme become Americans legal system.

  4. GK, you should read the book, Seven Men Who Rule the World From the Grave, by Dave Breese. It's about 30 years old, but the message is good today. Keynes is one of the seven. There's a common thread running through the works of each and all: Kierkegaard, Darwin, Keynes, Marx, Freud, Dewey, and one other, I can't remember his name. Each is deified by his followers, and all have a profound effect on modern and postmodern thinking and hence society.

  5. Politicklish says:

    After all the griping and groaning, bitching and moaning by congress, the administration and about 80 percent of the know-nothings (conservatives, liberals, Republicans and Democrats), I think what will happen is just as Gary North has said time after time: The can will be kicked once again. To all those who talk, talk, talk about limiting the size and scope of government, I have one question: When are you going to begin? If not now, when?!? I can't hear you!

  6. Dee Bernardo says: