3 min read

Five sure-fire ways to solve the fiscal cliff

America is about to plummet off the fiscal cliff. In fact, by the time you read this it might already be on the way down. And all because those pesky politicians couldn’t agree on how to cut the deficit.

The problem is that even if the Republicans and Democrats established precisely how much they wanted to cut from the country’s borrowing, they can’t make up their minds how much of that will come in the form of spending cuts or tax rises. But are those the only options? I can reveal that in fact there are a number of more radical options Congress has not yet considered which could help it meet the deadline without having to cut one penny of spending.

That’s right. They’re a bit blue sky but each is, in its own way, flawless:

1. Switch to the Persian calendar

According to the Persian or Iranian calendar we are currently in the year 1391. So let’s say we retained the deadline for the fiscal cliff as January 2013. That would mean we’d have more than 621 years’ leeway. Alternatively, given that adopting a calendar used by one’s arch enemy might look a little iffy, America could always switch from the Gregorian calendar onto the Julian calendar which, I’m reliably informed by @allanholloway, would push the deadline back about three weeks. Problem solved!

2. Adopt the ancient Egyptian numeral system

Well, it’s all just a numbers game after all, this debt palaver, isn’t it? And if you can’t change the numbers, why not simply change the numeral system? The ancient Egyptian numeral system, is, conveniently, incapable of denoting any number over a million. All they have is a hieroglyph which means: “many”.

So the US national debt, currently around $12 trillion or $16 trillion, depending on which definition you use, would, far more simply, become: $many. Problem solved!

3. Stash it away in a tax haven

Big multinationals are a dab hand at using a variety of techniques (transfer pricing etc) to disguise the real state of their books. And what they can do, surely the greatest economy on earth can do even better? With a little bit of financial jiggery-pokery, it could hive off the national debt to an offshore subsidiary in the Cayman Islands. Out of sight, out of mind. And in case you’re wondering, a certain European country has done something not entirely dissimilar before. Problem solved!

4. Put it all on the Superbowl

It’s only a few weeks now until the greatest show on earth – the Superbowl. So how about Congress puts a big slug of cash on the result of the game? I mean, the 49ers are looking unbeatable this year, aren’t they? Though having said that, so did the Patriots this time last year… But anyway, what have they got to lose? $1 trillion on the 49ers, and just imagine the celebrations if they win! And if they lose, instantly impose a 100% tax on the gambling industry. Problem solved!

5. Mint a $1 trillion coin

The Treasury Secretary could, theoretically, order the Federal Reserve to mint a few platinum coins worth $1 trillion apiece, which the Government could use to pay off the majority of the public debt instantly. Problem solved! Although, come to think of this, wouldn’t that just amount to monetising the country’s debt, which is what happened in the Weimar Republic in the 1920s? Surely no-one could seriously suggest such an idea, could they?

Comments

Sign in or become a Ed Conway member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.