- Last Updated: 4:01 AM, January 9, 2012
- Posted: 10:28 PM, January 8, 2012
President Obama plans to soon ask for another $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling, because spending money is lots of fun and we just can’t stop. It’s as if no one takes this whole incomprehensibly large debt-growing even larger thing very seriously. If you try to tell people that eventually the debt will be a disaster for our nation, they say, “Bah. Currency is just a made-up thing, and we can have whatever we want forever with no consequences!”
People aren’t so dismissive of global warming, though, because global warming has cool things like scientists predicting doomsday scenarios with tsunamis and an out-of-control Al Gore. We hear about it so much that it’s ingrained in everyone’s heads that if you install incandescent light bulbs, you’re killing baby polar bears.
The thing is, global warming is completely made up (have you ever even seen a carbon dioxide?), but if we applied the same p.r. principles to an actual looming disaster like the national debt, maybe people would finally pay attention.
Think of it: The next time the president tries to raise the debt ceiling and spend our way out of debt, panicked scientists rush to the president and say, “According to our computer models, if you keep adding to a number, it gets bigger.”
He’d probably demand they recheck their data, and they would say, “It’s undeniable: Only subtraction reduces the debt.” And the president would have to listen to them, because they’d be wearing lab coats.
To really get people to pay attention like they do with global warming, though, we’d need more specifics on when the disasters would hit. With the environment, scientists always predict world-ending disaster 10 years from now, or at least they have been for decades.
So regarding the national debt, we’d need a scientist to say something like, “I predict that in 10 years, we’ll be forced to teach dolphins to have a rudimentary form of currency so we can borrow money from them. In 10 more years, the world’s population will be forced to live in Antarctica, as the rest of the world will have been rendered uninhabitable by debt.”
Of course, it’s easy for people to be dismissive of scientists, because they’re a bunch of nerds. If we want more people to listen, we’d need celebrities on board.
Because celebrities have short attention spans, we’d need to put the debt crisis in simple and horrific terms for them. Then Leonardo DiCaprio can appear in an ad, warning, “If our credit rating continues to drop, America will be forced to get loans from even dodgier sources: loan sharks. And when we can’t pay them, they’ll break the country’s thumbs, i.e, Michigan.”
He can then show simulated pictures of what a blown-up Michigan would look like (or just pictures of present-day Detroit). Then he can show further devastation and say, “And this is what it will look like when America is forced to nuke itself for the insurance money.”
After that, we’d need movies dramatizing the debt crisis. And not just a slide show — we’re talking “Debt Crisis: The Movie” directed by Michael Bay with lots of gratuitous explosions to really drive the point home. Or maybe it could be part of the plot of the next “Planet of the Apes” movies: The apes take over the planet, because they’re the only ones left who aren’t in debt. (”Get your high-interest loans off me, you dirty apes!”)
With hope, these ideas would work to get people as engaged in the debt problem as they are in global warming, because we don’t want to end up where Greece is, forced to pay attention to the crisis. Our economic system’s collapse may not seem as exciting as melting ice caps, but people really aren’t going to like it — at least, according to computer models.
Political satirist Frank J. Fleming’s e-book, “Obama: The Greatest President in the History of Everything,” is out from HarperCollins.Follow @NYPostOpinion