Archived Story

Dive over cliff well-deserved

Published 6:10am Monday, December 31, 2012 Updated 8:16am Monday, December 31, 2012

The big question: Which will happen first – a last-minute agreement before the fiscal cliff or a settlement between the National Hockey League players and owners?

The bigger question: At this point, does anyone even care?

I know, I know. Allowing the country to go over the fiscal cliff could have “disasterous” effects on our economy; that the stock market will go into a tailspin, and millions of jobs will be lost.

I have a hard time believing that, just as I wasn’t too concerned that the world is going to end on Dec. 21 (it didn’t, for those of you reading this online from your 1950s-style nuclear fallout shelters).

Do I believe the stock market will take a dive due to the fiscal cliff, which means automatic spending cuts and tax increases? Surely. But the stock market takes drastic turns pretty regularly anyway. Anyone invested in the stock market who watches it daily is either in the business of buying and selling stocks, or enjoys going to the casino. The key to investing in the stock market is to stick with it for the long term.

I mean, does anyone really believe that the fiscal cliff will prompt people to buy fewer Coca-Colas, Big Macs or iPads? Of course not.

Oh sure, as Republicans love to point out, the implications of higher taxes will mean fewer jobs. But no one can provide real evidence that that’s the case. If a business idea for a product or service is a good one, corporations will invest in producing it, and the public will invest in buying it, and jobs will be created. Except in extreme cases, how much a company pays in taxes has little to do with it.

Sure, the spending cuts – such as those proposed in defense — will mean fewer jobs, because ultimately, all government money spent pays someone’s salary.

But isn’t the idea that our federal government spends more than it takes in in taxes? And if that’s the case, aren’t there really only two options – cutting spending and raising taxes?

And if the “fiscal cliff” is basically about cutting spending and raising taxes, then what’s the problem?

I get that we can make the cliff a fiscal “slope” instead, and by doing that we can lessen the blow to the economy. But isn’t the economy in bad shape anyway (with the exception of western North Dakota, of course).

Besides, we don’t have the political leaders to create a “slope.” There is no compromise in Washington D.C. these days. It’s all or nothing, my way or the highway. I was at a business store the other day and saw books on mastering the art of negotiation. I’m sure they are collecting dust in libraries and bookstores throughout the beltway.

Creating a slope means finding compromise. There will be none. These guys might as well hold hands in a line by the Palisades on Lake Superior, count to three, and run as fast as they can off the 300-foot cliff into the world’s largest lake.

As I have said before, it was you, the voter, who has created this situation. Time and time again, you, the voter, has chosen to replace the moderate, centrist candidates with the extreme ones. It was you who believed that anyone whose stance on an issue differed even slightly from the extreme party line should be replaced by those who do. It is you who has made politicians who may have moderate views become completely disinterested in running for office, while those who have extreme views line up for the opportunity to express it with their vocal cords and voting fingers.

Do I want the country to go over the fiscal cliff? Not particularly. Do I think we deserve to? Absolutely.

If you didn’t want to go over the fiscal cliff, you should supported candidates other than Michelle Bachmann or Keith Ellison.

And as for the NHL, I was looking forward to seeing the Wild in action this year, especially after they signed two bonified stars in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. But if millionaire players and billionaire owners can’t reach an agreement in a league that is clearly low on the professional sports popularity totem pole, I’m not going to let it ruin my 2013.

Happy New Year, by the way.


Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at

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