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Observing Editor

One adventuresome atom

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Suspicions are growing that the current administration is being somewhat disingenuous regarding the effects of the colossal Federal deficits projected for the next several years. Some commentators have compared the current situation to the period of deficts incurred during the last phase of the Cold War, which led to enormous growth of the national debt. Others have likened the Federal deficit to the great she-spider Ungoliant of the outermost dark, who feasted on the treasures of Valinor and swelled into a hideous leviathan of evil thereby, thanks to the treachery of Melkor. These latter commentators may be neither safe nor sane, but their concerns cannot be ignored.

Perhaps most troubling about the state of the national finances is the ecological threat poised by the expanding debt. A shortfall of trillions upon trillions of dollars has a considerable psychic mass in the collective consciousness of the nation, and it is soon liable to begin condensing into a material state. I would not be surprised if the basements of the treasury are already collecting pools of the stuff. At normal temperatures, the materialized debt is a brilliant red fluid, somewhat volatile, which could be employed for writing were it not for its tendency to corrode gold nibs. Its effect on human health is unquantified but generally deleterious, especially to the young.

As an immediate measure, the debt could be pumped out of the treasury and stored in zinc or nickel tanks, but this is no long term solution. Any dip in the economy could result in an immediate expansion of the debt that would explosively rupture any storage vessel. Such an event would spread an aerosol of debt over a wide area, leading to a choking of the economy in the affected region. Even in the absence of a cataclysmic loss of containment, the debt will tend to leak out of tanks over time, leading to contamination of any money supplies or other liquid assets in the vicinity. Vast quanities of cash would be required to clean up the mess in either case, with untold other losses to the citizens of the country.

Researchers at Glob Labs have long anticipated the need for a scheme to permanently dispose of the debt, and a research program has been underway for some time on cost-effective means for debt abatement. There have been some notable failures along the way: Project Bottom Line seized on the idea of recycling condensed debt into warheads for munitions. Early tests confirmed the destructive properties of debt-based weaponry, but later measurements demonstrated that weapons deployment invariably led to an increase in the total amount of debt on hand. This was a crushing disappointment, and the work was subsequently abandoned.

Project Budget Freeze proposed vitrification of the debt into inert solid blocks that could be safely buried. Unfortunately, some of the team clandestinely employed the resulting ruby-colored cubes for the manufacture of dice, which lead to a widespread outbreak of gambling. The project leader managed to run through the entire budget in a few weeks, leading to an indefinite suspension of work. The ringleaders themselves were disappointed to discover that the vitrificaton process only slowed the expansion of the debt, rather than halting it altogether, and they were eventually forced to declare bankruptcy.

Though the work continues at a furious pace, we are increasingly concerned that the accumulation of debt is yet more rapid than our progress. There are also disquieting rumors circulating in the lab of a parallel government effort on a strategy of last resort: a proportional transfer of the debt to individual citizens via an emergency inoculation program. The results could be nothing short of horrifying. Many citizens with personal debt would not survive the injection of their portion of the Federal debt, suffering from instantaneous evaporation of net worth. Children without incomes would be devastated, beginning life with tremendous financial obligations. Glob Labs cannot endorse the wisdom of such a plan, and I sincerely hope these rumors are mere fabrications.

The Geek Chorus: Speaking of, isn’t this getting kinda heavy, dood?

Myself: I beg your pardon?

The Geek Chorus: I mean, you’re almost ranting here. Grrr, argh, the Feds stole my ice cream bar. You some sort of troll?

Myself: No, I don’t believe so.

The Geek Chorus: Man, you need to lighten up, then.

Myself: I see.

The Geek Chorus: Totally. Anyway, I need to cruise over to check out those Britney pix. L8r, dood.

Myself: Goodbye.