The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 8, 2012

Sliding toward the fiscal cliff in ‘Bizarro World’

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — In October 1958, DC Comics introduced a new character to the paper-and-ink universe populated by Superman, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

His name was Bizarro. Though he wore a costume and cape similar to Superman’s and possessed similar super powers, he was the Man of Steel’s moral and intellectual exact opposite.

His home was Htrae (Earth spelled backwards), better known as “Bizarro World.”

In “Bizarro World,” worthless items were considered valuable, stupidity was prized over intelligence, cowardice over bravery, ugliness over beauty.

“Bizarro World” is ruled by the Bizarro Code, which states, in part, “Us do opposite of all Earthly things. Us hate beauty. Us love ugliness.”

In one storyline, a salesman sells Bizarro Bonds using the sales pitch “Guaranteed to lose money for you.”

It seems “Bizarro World” has transcended the pages of comic books and is here, now. Perhaps you know it better as Washington, D.C.

The U.S. economy is still clawing its way out of the deep recession into which it plunged in 2008.

America’s housing market seems to have bottomed out, with home prices rising in September — the sixth straight month of growth.

The unemployment rate has dropped below 8 percent, falling to 7.7 percent according to a report issued Friday by the Labor Department. That’s the lowest rate since December 2008. The U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, the report said.

Mind you, no one has yet broken into a chorus of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” America’s economy still faces challenges. But overall the news is positive.

So the economy is getting well, slowly but surely, so Congress and the president seem determined to make it sick again.

With just 22 days left in the year, Congress and the president continue to play a high-stakes game of chicken over the coming storm known as the “fiscal cliff.”

If an agreement isn’t reached in time, everyone’s taxes will go up Jan. 1 and government spending will be drastically cut.

That will cause unemployment to soar and send the economy reeling back into recession.

Why? Because our elected officials seem more loyal to factions within their respective parties than to their constituents.

“Us hate beauty, us love ugliness.” Bizzaro Congress and Bizzaro president apparently also love financial misery.

In our fair state, it is estimated we will lose as many as 8,000 jobs in the aerospace and defense industries, not to mention the trickle-down effect on ancillary businesses.

The president, still basking in the glow of his re-election, thinks he has the political strength to force Republicans in Congress to accede to his will.

The GOP, in turn, still thinks it has the upper hand because of its majority in the House of Representatives.

So we are all on a big sled, picking up speed as we slide down a snowy slope, gliding at first, but steadily increasing our pace. Directly ahead is a precipitous drop-off, a yawning chasm leading to God knows what below. To the left and right are open fields where we could safely glide to a halt.

In the driver’s seat, two figures wrestle for control, first turning left, then back right, finally reaching a stalemate, causing the sled to speed straight down the hill, directly toward looming disaster.

Speaking of “Bizarro World,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid comparing the Republicans’ lack of leadership on the fiscal cliff question to the New York Jets’ inability to settle on a starting quarterback. House Speaker John Boehner blames the president. A pox on both sides.

The president’s approval rating is up since the election, to 57 percent, but members of Congress are rated just above car salesmen in a recent Gallup poll ranking professions in terms of honesty and ethics.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed give Congress low or very low marks for honesty and ethics.

Heck, even journalists get better marks than Congress. We ink-stained wretches rank 10 slots above senators and congressmen.

Both sides need to give a little, to work together, to compromise, which seems a dirty word in Washington these days. Make a deal, steer us clear of the economic abyss prepared to swallow us up if both sides continue putting politics ahead of the American people.

If “Bizarro World” prevails, and the nation indeed plunges off the fiscal cliff, voters should resolve to take their anger with them into the booth in 2014 and 2016, using the ballot to smite both sides involved in this whole, sorry mess.



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.