We have ushered in a new era in government. In years past, Congress satisfied itself by doing nothing while lawmakers told us about their accomplishments. Now it holds symbolic votes that leave nothing to speculation. We know without a doubt that lawmakers have no plans to do anything productive for the rest of this year. Inflammatory bills going nowhere will quickly be passed by the majority party in the House or Senate and then just as swiftly be rejected by the opposition while the sparks fly. The good news is that while lawmakers are doing nothing the brakes are on the deficit spending train. The bad news is that the only thing we have going to fix our government spending problem is sequestration (see: Federal Debt Crisis, Sequestration Will Turn Ugly in November). Even rats in a maze can do better than that.
Rats would never have forced a scheme like sequestration
Call it food pellet economics. Lab rats understand that getting a food pellet is better than not getting one. If they get through a maze, they get food. If they don’t, no food. Simple.
Capitol Hill lawmakers don’t understand this. They don’t comprehend that when they get lost in their deficit spending maze and hatch insane, apocalyptic solutions like sequestration to curb out of control government spending they end up with fewer food pellets. The Democratic contingent understands this least of all. They just want to keep spending, even though they know they are out of cash.
Lawmakers are unable to learn simple spending tricks
Rats can do more than find their way through mazes. For instance, they can jump through hoops. Congress doesn’t jump through hoops anymore. When things go bad, lawmakers give up. Democrats endorse spending on the backs of the wealthy. Republicans want to cut back. Nothing happens.
When Congress can’t come up with a solution to a problem that absolutely has to be solved, they pick a few of their own to send on a fool’s errand. Lawmakers should remember what the super committee got them: sequestration, the elimination of choice. Less to go around for everyone. No intelligent lab rat would ever put itself in that position. It knows enough to find its way out of the maze.
Negative reinforcement should discourage deficit spending
Positive and negative reinforcement have a lot to do with how rats learn. Positive reinforcement means food. Negative reinforcement might mean an electric shock. Don’t try this with Capitol Hill Democrats. They won’t learn. The concepts of debt and deficit are incomprehensible to them. Congressional lifers have been going through the same tired motions for years and the only positive reinforcement they understand comes from winning another election.
Negative reinforcement doesn’t work, either, no matter how badly we might want to administer a few corrective shocks. If there is a tipping point where the learning curve starts, one can only imagine how bad things would have to get to reach it.
Can Democrats be taught what will happen if Congress doesn’t do something about government spending?
There is one big difference between Democrats and lab rats. The rats don’t have a clue that when the experiment is over things are going to end very badly for them. This is one area where Democrats might be smarter than rats. A few of our more clever Democratic senators and representatives have figured out that if Congress doesn’t change its habits, thing are going to go badly for the country. Unfortunately for us, too many have learned that no matter what happens they can still get reelected and are still going to get paid while Americans wallow in government debt. Maybe Democrats are as smart as rats, after all.