Good Reads: Congress's failure, China's looming crisis, and sarcasm explained
Today's Good Reads include a look at the good in Congress's looming budget failure, how China's bubble may burst, and why sarcasm could make you smarter.
There’s something about an abyss that tends to attract daredevils in Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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Most people would likely do everything they could to avoid defaulting on their loans – as the US government came close to doing this summer. Most also bring, or attempt to bring, their spending in line with their revenue – something Congress seems to be unable to do ahead of their deadline this week.
Yet the seasoned leaders of Washington are throwing caution to the wind, and pressing the accelerator for a Thelma-and-Louise finale.
Bless their hearts, they keep the news industry alive.
Toward the end of last week, the members of Congress’s “super committee” – do they wear capes? – started sending out signals that they would fail to reach a compromise to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade. Unlike past budget impasses, where Congress’s failure to pass a budget meant that government literally had to shut down for a few weeks until Congress could rediscover the spirit of compromise, there appear to be automatic spending cuts built into the process in both defense and domestic budgets.
But the Monitor’s Mark Trumbull writes that there are some pundits who believe this seemingly messy affair might actually be good for democracy. The new view in Washington is that failure might be good, he writes:
"That view: Don't get hot and bothered if the panel fails to deliver. The battles will just be fought again after the next election – and maybe on that day the side with the best ideas will have more political clout."
What about China?
Most economists assume that the current bad economic times will turn around for the better, driven by the economic engine of all those thriving emerging nations like Brazil, China, India, and parts of Africa. But what if China ends up having the same kind of overheated economy that the West has had, and goes into a tailspin? Well, that would be bad.
The Atlantic magazine’s Max Fisher writes that China’s leaders never anticipated that the West – their biggest customer – would suddenly have difficulty buying its cheap goods. And now, China will have to adjust its economic model quickly in order to keep that officially-ordained 8 percent growth rate going, and to prevent unrest.