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The Debt Strike Pledge

It played like a trite Hollywood movie. The bad guys strapped a bomb to America and set it to explode on August 2nd. They stopped the countdown timer with moments to spare, when we caved in to their demands.

I don’t know what damage will be inflicted on ordinary Americans because some people would rather cut off unemployment insurance than make a billion-dollar corporation pay a dime in taxes. But I do know one thing.

This won’t be the last time politicians use the debt ceiling as a weapon. They’ve done it before; they’ll do it again. And when they do, we need to be ready to stop them.

Reckless brinksmanship with the full faith and credit of the United States government is an assault on the American people. It isn’t even politics; it’s blackmail.

Our great nation made it through the cold war, several hot ones, race riots, terror attacks, one depression, countless recessions, morbid obesity and Madonna with its credit intact.

Little did we know, as we dodged nuclear Armageddon in backyard fallout shelters, that the debt ceiling lurked outside, waiting to take us down. Deliberate default was one dirty trick we didn’t see coming. We’ll be paying the price of that blindness for decades.

Public opinion polls showed overwhelming support for raising the debt limit and avoiding default. But the new breed of radical legislators masquerading as conservatives didn’t give a damn. They blasted right through the flashing red lights of their supposedly sacred markets and turned a deaf ear to the panicked cries of our allies. They told anyone who doubted the wisdom of their twisted logic to “talk to the hand.”

Playing politics with the debt ceiling is playing chicken with our nation’s economic survival. But there is a faction in American politics that will play this game of financial chicken over and over again if we let them.

This time they won. But next time is coming soon. Words won’t stop them. A General Debt Strike will.

I propose a pledge: “We, the people of the United States of America hereby pledge to suspend all payments on all debts, public and private, and will consider all claims upon our purse null and void, effective from the first day of any government default and continuing until the last day of such default.”

That is people power in action, direct action. And the debt strike has a great historical pedigree. The general strike was the preferred tactic of non-violent revolutionaries in the last century. It wouldn’t work now, because so few people have jobs to strike from.

But we nearly all have debt. If our government is going to default, screwing up our economy and tearing huge, bodybag-sized holes in the safety net, we have the means to make our displeasure known. And felt. Whenever they try to pull this stunt on us.

Next time, we all default. If the government threatens to stop paying its debts, so will we. Sorry Visa, not this month. Not until they raise the debt ceiling. No car payment, no mortgage payments, no payments of any kind. We’re on strike.

We can’t count on our elected representatives to fix the mess because they make the mess. On purpose. Congress is either owned by the big moneyed interests, or rented by idiots who have been fooled into thinking their interests are the same as the big moneyed interests.

The ironies are so thick you can cut them with a butter knife. The Republican Party, the party of business, is so full of themselves they think they own the store. They think they’re the board of directors of American capitalism, instead of what they are and always have been: Errand boys for Big Everything.

They need to be reminded and I know how to do it, right now, before they try to work this scam again. We all take the pledge. No payments on our car loans, mortgages, credit cards, consumer loans, not a dime, if the government defaults.

Trust me, if we take that pledge, Congress will raise the debt ceiling standing up. They’ll have to. Because once their real bosses get done with them, they’ll be too sore to take their seats.

If history teaches us anything, it’s that you can’t fight money with words. You fight money with money. If we go on debt strike, words will be unnecessary. In fact, they’ll be inaudible. You won’t be able to hear them above the squeals.