Embattled Washington: From SOPA to the Debt Ceiling

It’s hard to crawl the Internet today without running across something like this…

Wikipedia Blackout Notice

Wikipedia and several other sites are “blacked out” to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA — an odious piece of legislation that would allow domain names to be erased from the web without due process of law.

Accidentally run afoul of the bill’s copyright provisions — an incredibly easy thing to do — and the home page of your website might look something like this:

Possible Website Block by US Authorities

Not that this is deterring members of Congress determined to get the bill passed.

“Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks,” says its sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), “markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.”

“It’s D.C. versus Silicon Valley in the SOPA fight,” observes colleague Greg Grillot. “You have Google, Mozila, Wikipedia, Reddit, Firefox and Boing Boing against it. And how many D.C. shills for it?”

“It’s a true war: the last bastion of creative/productive ingenuity in America versus the swamp of D.C.’s parasitic, industry-conflicted bureaucracy.”

Is D.C. winning?

Last year, Census data revealed Washington moved past San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area.

Meanwhile, we see the House will likely vote today against raising the debt ceiling, which Uncle Sam is once again hitting.

It’s purely symbolic: Under the debt-ceiling deal reached last August, the president need merely notify Congress that he’s going to raise it; it’s up to both houses to vote against it. With the Senate under the control of the Democrats, that won’t happen.

The $1.2 trillion increase coming soon should be enough to tide over Uncle Sam until… oh, right around Election Day. And that increase would have to be passed the old-fashioned way.

Next crisis, please…

“While Washington has spent the last year (and much of the last quarter-century) fighting about the national debt, most of our leaders have blithely ignored America’s staggering level of household debt,” writes American University history professor Andrew Yarrow.

Time was Americans observed National Thrift Week along with Ben Franklin’s birthday, which was yesterday. Now Americans are once again raiding their savings to get by.

“In an ominous sign for America’s economic growth prospects,” Reuters reported yesterday, with no reference to Ben Franklin, “workers are paring back contributions to college funds and growing numbers are borrowing from their retirement accounts.”

Indeed, the savings rate has fallen back to December 2007 levels — right when the official “recession” began.

Addison Wiggin
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning