The Right Opinion

Two Kinds of Crazy

By Arnold Ahlert · Dec. 27, 2012

This is a column about two different subjects. One is the slaughter of innocents in Newtown, Connecticut, the other the so-called fiscal cliff. Both have been on my mind, but not for the reasons repeated ad nauseam by the people in my profession – who make me ashamed to be one of the people in my profession.

First Newtown. I am somewhat familiar with the town because I have an acquaintance who owns a house there. It is a picture postcard type of town, that has doubtlessly been shattered, perhaps irreparably, by the kind of evil that remains as alive as it is unexplainable. The only columnist who came close to explaining the kind of insanity that prompts someone to shoot little children was Mark Steyn, who perceptively recognized that such madness is an “exercise in hyper-narcissism.” As someone from a family with more than its fair share of mental illness, I can attest that such hyper-narcissism, or more simply, being completely involved in an entire universe of one’s own making, is the primary ingredient for deranged thinking.

What part of Adam Lanza’s universe prompted his maniacal turn? Damned if I know, but I’ll tell you something I do know: nobody else, not even the so-called experts, has the slightest clue either. Which brings me to my reason for writing about this tragedy – now, as opposed to when it happened.

What ever happened to decency and decorum? The politically motivated frenzy that occurred, even as the bodies of 26 people were still lying in the classrooms and hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School, was nearly as unspeakable as the crime itself. So were the equally despicable efforts of a news media determined to get the story out first – and fill in the correct facts later.

Why the rush? Why was it necessary to interview traumatized children, clog the town with satellite trucks and reporters, set up cameras at the funerals of children, and hammer the story home over and over, day after day, even as the worst thing that can happen to a parent, namely outliving their own child, didn’t present even the slightest impediment to the horde of sensation-seeking muckrakers? Why the endless analysis regarding cause and effect, from guns and video games to Asperger’s syndrome, and Hollywood, or any other “insightful” theory, that any expert – or two-bit columnist without a shred of credentials – cared to pony up?

Political advantage? People who exploit dead children and anguished parents to press an agenda are soulless ghouls. The people’s right to know? Spare me. I could give you laundry list of things the people had a right to know about before the presidential election, and the same self-anointed gate-keepers were more than happy to keep a ton of information suppressed until after it was over.

Ironically, the Benghazi story offers a clue as to what these people are really all about. Most of the MSM didn’t give a hoot about four murdered Americans, or the most transparent disinformation campaign in recent memory that followed those murders, until Benghazi became a story about which general was making it with which bimbo. In short, we have become a nation where sensationalism trumps substance, and decency and decorum are little more than anachronisms that only a decreasing number of dinosaurs who now constitute a minority of Americans choose to consider. I could say shame on the majority, but I’m pretty sure that word has no meaning anymore, either.

Speaking of things that lack meaning, the latest feeding frenzy surrounding the fiscal cliff is the epitome of emptiness. Even the term “fiscal cliff” is nothing more than media-promoted, sensationalist crap designed to do little more than stoke political division. The real story? We’re a nation $16 trillion in debt, running trillion dollar-plus deficits four years and counting, up against the debt ceiling again, with no end in sight. Furthermore, we’re not going broke, my fellow Americans. We are broke, and the only thing propping us up is the fact that Europe sucks worse than we do, and the Chinese aren’t completely convinced that we’re the deadbeats we’ve become.

And even as this historic tragedy becomes clearer and clearer, the level of ignorance among the public is breath-taking. If you ask a hundred people who’s lending America more money than anyone else to finance that debt, you’ll one hundred incorrect answers. It ain’t China, folks, and the correct answer to the question reveals just how little the so-called fiscal cliff matters.

The correct answer is America. In other words, were buying our owndebt. How? By printing money to purchase it. If I had a nickel for every blank stare I get when I try to explain that concept to people, I could retire. Most people cannot comprehend the utter monstrousness of debasing the currency in order to maintain the fiction that spending isn’t the problem. They don’t understand that until America’s spending addiction is forcefully addressed, every other aspect of the fiscal cliff negotiations is meaningless.

Honest to Goodness, does anyone seriously believe the even $4.6 trillion of cuts over the next ten years, which is the largest number being considered – even as it remains politically undoable – can even remotely make up for more than $5 trillion of deficit spending that just took place over the last four years? Can they possibly believe that taxing the “rich” even at the lowest threshold currently considered ($200K for an individual, $250K for a family) is the panacea they’ve been told it is? Can they possibly be so oblivious that they don’t know Republicans and Democrats are negotiating grains of sand, even as the genuine problem is a large as the Sahara?

When I started writing this column, I thought it was about two different things. Maybe it’s not. Adam Lanza was certainly insane. Yet what do you call a majority of Americans who either don’t know – or more likely, don’t care – that they are aiding and abetting their own economic annihilation, as well as that of their children?