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Lost In The Economic Landscape
by Pamela J. Forsythe

Remember being a kid in the backseat of the family car when your parents were arguing about directions? It feels just like that now in the United States. We’re all piled in back on our way to the Fiscal Cliff, which we really don’t want to see. The President and Congress take turns driving, swerving left and right, pulling into the White House driveway for press conferences, and slamming on the brakes for directions from the Treasury or Federal Reserve that sound more like suicide hotline advice than a GPS.

Here in the backseat, things are tense. We are terrified and getting carsick. We hope they find their way soon, but we’d settle for a rest stop. Unfortunately, the backseat doesn’t have a say.

So far this trip has been unpredictable, except for the ultimatums in the front seat. To review: Before setting off for the Fiscal Cliff, we toured the Mortgage Marsh and waded through the Swamp of Home Equity. It wasn’t fun. The car got stuck and everything came to a halt. Most of us got out to push, and before we knew it, were up to our armpits in the muck. Meanwhile the bankers climbed out of the windows and sat on the roof. They tossed suitcases full of bad debt into the swamp, and never once looked where they were throwing them. Several of us were blindsided by flying debris and submerged. There was no solid ground, and when we finally found the swamp’s edge, the bankers jumped off, leaving the rest of us there, muddy and dripping.

After that, the itinerary became a blur. We remember the Slippery Slope of Negative Savings, and almost crashing into the Debt Ceiling, which was just this side of Default Forest. Congress propped the ceiling up with the Fiscal Cliff, and we’ve been headed there ever since.

Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff is the goal, because we don’t want to careen over Recession Falls again. There is supposed to be a scenic overlook somewhere between Entitlement Beach and Taxation Terrace, but the people in the front seat can’t agree on the precise location. If they find it, we can park and take a nice photo, ideally before Christmas.

Those of us in the backseat will be satisfied just to survive this trip. To distract ourselves, we have been saying where we want to go next year. So far, the popular choice seems to be the Sea of Tranquility.