It's kind of a relief, isn't it? No longer being Number One. We're not the richest country in the world any more (that's Qatar), or the happiest (the Scandinavian nations beat us) or the smartest (Japan, S. Korea, Germany ...).
We are best at American football, although that's probably because nobody else plays it.
Now that our credit rating has been downgraded from triple A to double A+, we can relax. We can finally admit that no, we don't have the best healthcare system in the world. France does. France's credit rating is still triple A. That's cool. Let's just relax and refocus on the upside of the decline of the American Empire.
And thank the Tea Party! The Teaps have no clue how the global economy works (or even that there is a global economy), so their congressional operatives had no problem holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage for three solid weeks. Why, you ask? Because they don't want rich people to pay more taxes. Never mind that we'll all have to pay more: interest rates will go up because of the national credit downgrade and the deficit will grow, too. Never mind that the 401Ks and pension funds and retirement portfolios of millions of Americans have lost value because a few dozen pissant Congress persons refused to act like grownups.
Who would have thought that the Ayn Rand-loving Teaps could do more damage to capitalism than Karl Marx ever imagined? Not that they understand this. To them, America is a chosen nation, kind of like Israel, only with Jesus. God will fix our economy if we stay away from socialism and "take our country back" to what it was before brown people started coming here and taking the jobs we refuse to do, and black people started thinking they could walk into the White House by the front door.
The Brothers Koch must be proud of their little protegés. The Teaps have done their masters' bidding, preserving that all-important oil and gas industry subsidy, not to mention the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What next? Oh, yeah: there's a bill which will gut funding for the EPA, do away with clean air regulations and pretty much shut down the Clean Water Act. Uranium ore mine next to the Grand Canyon? Hell, yeah! And go ahead and blow the tops off the remaining Appalachians: there's more profit in coal than scenery. Plus, states should have the right to pollute all they want -- there's jobs in those emissions! If a downstream state doesn't like it, well, that's just tough.
(I'm not making any of this up: check out HR 2018 and HR 2584, two terrible attacks on the environment Congress didn't get around to before their August fundraising trip -- I mean, vacation).
Anyway, congratulations, Teaps! You wanted to drive the economy off the cliff and you did. You wanted to smack the president upside his furrin' commie pinko head and you did. You wanted to "send a message" and hey, the markets heard you. Now what, Teaps? What's the plan? Other than God fixing the economy, that is. You own this mess: what's the play?
You've got no plan.
OK, how about this? We let you have your own country. Let's call it "Texas." The rest of us agree to let Texas secede and you can run it according to the purest free-market principles. We keep the federal highway money (socialist), the Medicaid matching funds (socialist) and the University of Texas -- it's an elitist institution anyway, what with all that federal research money (socialist). In fact, we keep Austin: it can be a free city-state like Monaco, only way hipper. You get everything else. And since your two official religions will be Evangelical Christianity and Voodoo Economics, we'll even throw in Standard and Poor's, the agency that took the U.S. down a grade. S&P are your kind of people. Not only did they make a $2 trillion math error (that's trillion with a "t," yeah?) in their rating calculations, they are the ones who gave AAA status to the sub-prime mortgages and weird junk derivatives that got us into this financial mess in the first place.
Diane Roberts is Solares Hill Capital Bureau Chief.