Jim Hopkins on current issues
Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: Alice in Funderland's magical debt recipe

Don't settle for a measly gazillion dollar debt... just borrow more like they do in Washington. Photo / Thinkstock
Don't settle for a measly gazillion dollar debt... just borrow more like they do in Washington. Photo / Thinkstock

Did you hear it? Did you hear the markets heaving a sigh of relief? Did you feel it? Did you feel the hot rush of moneyed air stirring your portfolios? You must have. Everybody did. We all heard the sigh. Or so it would seem. That's why everyone's punching the air and snogging strangers on the bus and generally carrying on in a most unseemly fashion.

Because we've dodged a bullet, friends. The firing squad's got the day off. Calamity's on hold - and so's the fiscal meltdown. We won't be plunged into the dollardrums any time soon, thanks entirely to Uncle Sam (or SuperSam, if you prefer). God bless you, Unc. You've saved the world! In the nick of time, at the eleventh hour and 59th minute, just as the scary red numbers on the control panel of the doomsday device were clicking past 002, you closed your hero's eyes, took a deep hero's breath and snipped the yellow wire.

"Curses!!!" screamed Doctor Debt as his deadly machine fell silent.

"Foiled again!"

Indeed you are, egregious fiend, for, as we know, the Washington wizards have finally cut a deal. "And not a moment too soon, caped crusaders!" But a deal's a deal, however late it's cut. And here we have a deal so far-reaching in its vision, so sublime in its clarity that you could call it the Hubble Telescope of money. Because the Yanks have sorted their Debt Crisis. No! Not sorted. They've nuked it! By the best and bravest of means.

They're going to borrow more money.

Well, yesiree, Bob, danged if that don't beat all, sure as shootin'. They've plugged it cleaner than the bathroom in a Taco Bell. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and pass the allocation. We's all sleepin' easy in our beds tonight.

And we should. For this is pure genius. "If you're only up to your armpits, then the doo-doo ain't deep enough, dude!" That's the message from D.C. Don't settle for a measly US$14.3 trillion hole. Dig a bigger one.

Yes, all right, there's supposed to be cuts too, whopping cuts, trillions of dollars slashed from the budget. But they will come later. Shortly before Nasa's first pig lands on the moon and all the pork barrels are turned into ploughshares. It will be a great day when it happens - just after the End of the World, as first predicted by that great swish banker, Nostradamus.

Which is terrific news for the rest of us. It means we've got plenty of time to implement the Washington Solution, as it's now known, wheresoever a fiscal problem of the trillionish kind rears its ugly dread.

So hail to thee, Captains America! You've shown us the way. Now we can go where you have gone - into the very jaws of the gurgler with our hearts held high. Because the Washington Solution can be our solution too. We can apply your Alice in Funderland, Through the Lending Glass solution to our dilemmas, knowing it will work.

Take the Super Silly, for example; much maligned recently for spending $370,000 on glossy pamphlets lauding a footling rise in rates. Well, anything footling in local government deserves praise, but Lenny,

Lenny, where's the vision? More to the point, where's the Washington Solution? Don't be content with a little increase, your warship. People hate increases, however small. Go for broke, old son. Think outside the square. If one $370,000 pamphlet equals a small increase in rates, imagine what one hundred could do.

Extract your digit, Len. Print more pamphlets! As many as it takes to cut the rates. Ignore your political advisers, sir. Dismiss their flaccid counsel. On second thoughts, hire more. Fill a building with them. Not to listen to, of course. No one in their right mind listens to a political adviser. No, hire them to write the pamphlets, Len. Give the people what they want, sir! Rates reductions! Ten, 20, 30 per cent - 50 if they're living in Remmers. You can do it, sir. You can. $370,000.

Phooey! Chickenfeed! But $3,700,000. Hey! Now you're talkin'! Get that cheque book out and slash those rates. Cash 'em! Slash 'em!

It's the Washington way.

The same goes for the Reserve Bank. If Dr Bollard really wants to fight inflation, he should cut the OCR. And if he won't, then we get a new Governor. Someone like Rod Petricevic, perhaps. No offence, Dr B, you're a fine fellow, steeped in rectitude with lashings of probity. But that's the problem. You haven't embraced the New Monetarism. You're not giving us the Washington Solution.

But we want it. Good grief, Guv, if they can fix a crisis by making it worse, so can we. We're up for a soft option, jes' like Uncle Sam. If you owe it, spend it. Shucks, there ain't nothing wrong with that, y'all!

- NZ Herald

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