Wick Communications

Oh, no, it’s a fiscal cliff!

In Writing on 3 Jan 2013 at 11:50 am


For me, the biggest lesson in the holiday standoff known as “the fiscal cliff” is that pithy terms and political intrigue are most often meaningless malarkey. Which is to say, the next time I find myself dangling perilously over such an imaginary precipice, I hope to have the intellectual integrity to put the whole thing into proper perspective – regardless of the shouting of the national media.

The fiscal cliff, of course, was That Terrible Thing that was going to happen at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31. Our taxes were going up and our military might was going down. Our credit would be degraded, our stocks would plummet, and it seemed for a time that only Batman could save us from sinister lawmakers who were holding hostage our collective good fortunes.

As we know now, as we should have known then, it was mostly political theater. One predictor of a thing’s unimportance is a media-friendly, two-word, headline-ready term – such as “fiscal cliff” – that fills a lot of space when real news gets slow around the holidays.

Most of us didn’t provide much coverage of this particular spectacle. The locus of all this falderal was the District of Columbia and that often seems a long way from our mission. Some of us, including those of us at the Half Moon Bay Review, tried to ferret out the local ramifications of going over the financial falls. In retrospect, perhaps we should have been asking a more fundamental question: Is this worth talking about at all? …

“Debt ceiling,” “fiscal cliff,” “Arab spring” … beware of terms that look great on a CNN graphic but that can’t be readily defined for your sixth-grader at home. As often as not, these are coined by political operatives with an ax to grind. Instead of repeating them ad nauseum, try to define what you mean with specific language that is understandable and perhaps a little less grandiose and simplistic.


  1. Touche’! The term I will not write or repeat has been the biggest non event in years. But they (the politicians) were rocking it hard for one reason, to make the payroll tax take not seem so bad. This is one of the worst shell games I have ever seen perpetrated on the American public in a long long time.
    The sad thing is, most of the media sucked it up with two straws, not because of importance, but because it sounded cool and made them think they are intelligent. I am so glad I have been on television hiatus since August.
    This was one drama I’m glad I was out of the loop on. But it goes to show you the sheep mentality of the national press.
    Meanwhile, important stories and issues are missed and under-covered for the sake of a catch phrase.

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