There is something devastatingly distorting and self-aggrandizing, yet desparate, about the current debates in the U.S. Congress over the "fiscal cliff"...
First, it is not and never has been a sign of superior responsibility to argue for spending cuts as the highest priority of any family or organization, including the federal government. Appealing to fear, especially to the fears of a "worse-case-scenario" is one of the most irresponsible approaches to the solution of any problem. Used as a motivator, the "worse-case" scenario is merely a "nuclear bomb" of rhetoric that is used, too often with impunity, by those seeking absolute control. It is the people who start from such a position who are desperate to quiet their own fears and even their own terror, should they not be in control of whatever situation the community/family/government/church faces. And every time the "cliff" argument, or the desperate outcome as the most likely if the approach advocated by these intemperate voices is not adopted, is deployed, there is a not-so-covert insult of those who do not share their position. Anyone who cannot or will not comply with the spectre of the disaster we all face, if we do not "cut spending," or "stop eating" or "declare a moratorium" on whatever "they" argue is being over-deployed, is demonized as arrogant, short-sighted, narcissistic, a "liberal" or worse, stupid, by those whose conviction of their "disaster-based" rationale is so deep, profound and unshakeable that they hold to it as a matter of a cornerstone of their 'faith' in the correctness of their position.
I have seen the argument used in families, in churches, in schools and more recently in both the U.S. and Canadian governments, excessively, contemptuously and neurotically, by those whose self-perception includes membership in a 'higher order' of human being.
And of course, those of us liberals, are usually so disparate, so disorganized and so busy with other interests and pursuits, that no frontal counter-attack is offered, presumbably because there is a shared belief that such an attack would be counter-productive, given the granite quality of the other side's conviction.
It is true of the evangelical fundamentalist christians whose hard-core beliefs are held as "the word of God" as if they have privileged access to His mind, heart, spirit and vision. It is true of the treasurers in too many parishes whose parsimony and whose need for control is absolute, to the point of blindness to legitimate needs inside the church community, and more importantly in the church neighbourhood where people could easily be starving, without stirring even a glance from those frozen-cold treasurers.
It is true among too many accountants who have and continue to inflict their "values" on the many volunteer organizations whose prospects for enhanced fundraising have never interested or captivated their hollow imaginations, in order to insert some optimism into the usually moribund projects, made more so by the very "absolute parsimony" disguising the need of those accountants for absolute control.
It is true of the Tea Party, in the House of Representatives, whose capacity to take the longer view is aborted by their clinging to a position of scarcity, hopelessness and impending disaster, if their myopia does not become the accepted "wisdom" of the whole body. And, of course, united in their specific dysfunction of being imprisoned by their absolute need for absolute control, in whatever situation they find themselves participating in, they impose their "limits to growth" as a weapon of mass destruction.
No one can talk with them; no one can penetrate their holy yet hollow mind-set; no one can show them the narrowness and shortness, and tragedy of their insatiable need for control and perfection in the achievement of that need; and no one can provide legitimate options of nuance in an effort to loosen their grip on their own form of unreality, cloked as it is in sediment layers of both training and experience, based on little more than the fear of those who held similar positions in mostly different situations some time in the near or distant past.
Many of these people also have an insatiable appetite for seeking, holding and aggrandizing their "achievment" of positions of power. They would call it leadership and they would be just as out of touch with reality in that judgement as they are in their assessment of any situation requiring their absolute, and absolutely correct response.
They are a danger to every classroom in which they serve as instructor, to every family in which they serve as 'adult/parent', to every church in which they serve as leader, treasurer, priest, deacon or bishop (or pope), to every organzation in which they serve as a 'keeper of the purse' and in every government in which they serve as one of many members, elected or appointed.
And the next time I hear another of their many voices cry "catastrophe" I want someone nearby to shout out, "We have had it up to hear with your catastrophizing! And we have stopped listening!"