Ad Hoc Commentary – debt ceiling relief by Polanizati​on?

Even great ideas like the American Idol start suffering from viewer fatigue after the 12th inning:

“…Total viewers equaled 14.3 million — the first time a finale has not reached the 20-million mark since the show first aired in 2002…”

It is thus not a surprise that the only people excited about the debt ceiling are the politicians and the talking heads on television. Everyone else is probably suffering from chronic viewer fatigue.

The cynic would have preferred a war with Syria to distract and polarize the masses. It is very good that we did not go to war. That delayed the Taliban’s nuclear ambitions. However, we are not truly out of the woods yet because Obama decided to arm the rebels instead. For now, Syria is a worry for another day.

How do we solve the problem of a debt ceiling? That is probably the question on everyone’s mind. Any addiction is painful to fix. Debt addiction is no different. The real solution is painful and will never be attempted by any politician with eyes on the next elections.

For a temporary relief, Poland seems to offer a very attractive solution at the expense of seniors:

“…Poland intends to replace an outright liability (the bonds) with a contingent liability (the state-pension promise)…”

In other words, make it off-balance sheet. That is probably the oldest trick in town. We coin the term Polanization for this alchemy. Congress probably correctly concluded that they cannot debate the ceiling every few months just to raise it. Washing dirty laundry in public is bad politics.

But how can the politicians get hardworking good Americans to handover their hard-earned pensions. Just as Americans gave up their cherished freedoms after 911, Americans might very well give up their cherished pensions after some well publicized scams. Perhaps we would hear more about financial scams by loved-ones on seniors just as we suddenly heard about gun violence on television.

In the coming years, we should watch the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans. Page 6 of their resource guide lists out perpetrators of financial exploitation:

• Family members and caregivers

• Friends, neighbors or acquaintances

• Persons with Power of Attorney or the legal authority to access or manage your money

• Telephone and mail scammers

• Financial advisers

• Internet scammers

• Home repair contractors

• Medicare scam operators

• Other persons known or unknown to the older adult

It paints a dangerous world out there for seniors. The document seems to suggest that seniors should not trust anyone, not even their closest family members. Perhaps someday, Americans will remember well the words of Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling:

“…All of this does beg the question: who will protect consumers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?…”

Good luck in the markets.