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2013 doesn't deserve to start with a recession

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Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Hi, we're here to interview the Old Year. It's a tradition before New Year's. But where is he, where is 2012?”

“Up there. We can't get him down.”

“You mean up there? On that ... that fiscal cliff?”

“Sure. And it's as dangerous as it looks. An old geezer shivering right on the edge. ‘Come down off there, 2012! We want to ring you out joyfully and ring in the new. But how can we when you're up a cliff like that?' See, he just ignores me.”

“What do you suppose is wrong with him? Alzheimer's perhaps?”

“No, more like bipolar disorder. Just before he went up there he was rubbing his hands and cackling about taxing the 2 percent. ‘Millionaires, billionaires,' he kept repeating. It was like an obsession.”

“Harmless enough, though. After all, they can afford it.”

“Not so fast. Remember unintended consequences. Not him, though. ‘Everybody pays their fair share before I leave or my name ain't 2012!' he'd croak wildly.”

“And then?”

“His face would suddenly fall and his eyes grow dim. ‘What good would it do?' he'd say, his shoulders slumping. ‘If I taxed the rich till they were in rags, it still wouldn't raise enough money — not nearly enough — to close yearly trillion-dollar deficits. It's the spending that's out of line. I'm kidding myself. Besides, the rich create jobs.”

“That makes sense.”

“But then he'd tune into the TV news and be told that polls show all the rest of us who aren't rich want him to stick it to the rich. Besides, the spending he obsesses about is everybody else's safety nets. The poor, the elderly, the farmers, construction unions and defense contractors — they all rake in some of that government spending. And he'd perk up again.”

“Gosh, it must be hard to watch a year swing back and forth like that.”

“Especially when so much hangs in the balance. Imagine if he takes a tumble.”

“Right. But remind me again, what exactly would happen?”

“A sharp, spreading, stock-market-based recession, that's what. Beginning Jan. 1. Everybody's taxes would go up, the middle class would quit spending, millions of jobs would be lost. And I don't have to tell you what would happen to consumer confidence, the national debt, interest rates, the works.”

“It's too awful to contemplate, much less think about. The Old Year's got to listen!”

“That's why we keep yelling. ‘Come off there, 2012! It's bipartisan now, don't you understand? Don't leave your successor 2013, an innocent baby, a recession!'”

“It's worse than climate change. Have we ever plunged from good times to bad times at the stroke of a single midnight? It'd be a first.”

“Historic! Except that all years start out to make good history, like 1492 or 1776, not end up like this, spooking everybody.”

“After such early achievements, too. He slowly added jobs, revived housing and car sales and put new life in stock prices. He kept interest rates and inflation down.”

“Let's hope 2012 listens in time and comes down.”

“It's the least a year can do. And there are just a few days left.”

“Do you hear that, 2012? Come down offa there and go into history as a good year, not this ... this cliffhanger. You're taking all the joy out of the holiday season!”

Jack Markowitz is a columnist Thursdays for Trib Total Media. Email

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