Snowquester, sequester both inspire a yawn

March 11, 2013|Susan Reimer

It is fitting that we referred to last week's storm-that-wasn't as a snowquestration. And not just because it was kind of embarrassing and shut the government down.

No, the meteorological turbulence — such as it was — was like the economic turbulence in another way, leaving us all wondering: When will it arrive, and how bad will it be? Or will $85 billion in automatic budget cuts miss me altogether?

This uncertainty was compounded by confusion when the Dow hit record levels anyway. It made me question whether I knew anything at all about economics, and I answered myself: No.

I have done my darnedest to understand what the sequester is and what it will do, and my best guess is that it was put into place because no one could agree on anything, and it took effect because no one could agree on anything.

Sort of like three couples trying to decide on a destination for dinner: Nobody ends up eating where they really want to eat. Only with a lot more brinkmanship. It makes you long for the return of George W. "I'm the decider" Bush.

I've decided to do exactly what President Barack Obama does not want me to do: Ignore it all. He keeps trying to get my attention from his bully pulpit and by staging photo ops with potential victims of the sequester, but I'm not going to bite. I have my own troubles.

I am also ignoring the chattering class — Washington big thinkers who have been reduced to hurling insults at the politicians, like bettors at a cockfight. They are part of this tableau, too, making a nice living as spectators.

A little pork would go a long way about now. I am not sure why the president hasn't handed out a few dams or bridges or military bases to get this done, but maybe it will still happen when he goes to Capitol Hill to meet with the rank and file this week. Can't hurt. And there'd be jobs, the Holy Grail of this administration.

The fiscal ultraconservatives are holding their ground on the sequester because they think this crisis is the mechanism for reducing the size of government, but I think something quite different will happen. Government will just be more irrelevant to those it pretends to govern than it is now.

We already prefer to get our daily news from Comedy Central. Perhaps we can get our government from some other, more appealing, source than Sen. Mitch McConnell, with his nasal voice and that weak chin. I am thinking Jimmy Fallon. He already gets along great with the first lady.

Natural and manmade disasters will continue to threaten. I don't wish for my neighbor to be furloughed by the sequester, nor do I want the next snowstorm to knock a tree onto her roof. But I'm much more worried about keeping my own house in order (both literally and figuratively). In the end, though, what will be, will be.

Likewise, I am powerless to force the president and Congress to act. I am as meaningless to them as they are becoming to me. That they believe they are representing me — us — makes me feel like I am trapped in the Samuel Beckett play "Waiting for Godot," waiting for something to happen. And it never does.

I want to be more like those guys on Wall Street. Clearly, none of this bothers them. They are almost giddy with optimism. The Dow will easily make 15,000 soon, they say, and will assuredly hit 20,000.

Wall Street, like me, is ignoring the doomsday predictions about the sequester. They are also ignoring predictions that the economy is hopelessly mired in slow growth and will almost certainly be for decades.

What a cheerful bunch. You have to admire them.

In the meantime, I took off for the Philadelphia Flower Show, the ultimate escapist fantasy. Spring blooming indoors while winter carries on outside.

If that isn't a metaphor for my state of mind right now, I don't know what is.

Susan Reimer's column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at and @SusanReimer on

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