At Democracy in America, my take on the debt ceiling deal, which will assumably go through. Briefly, I think this whole thing has been kind of overblown. The most dire predictions about what would happen without the deal--collapse of the American economy, collapse of the global economy--were (are?) elaborate counterfactuals, with points in the causal chain being contingent on attitudes rather than events.* If we don't raise the debt ceiling, then everyone will know it's because our politics have become untenably fractious, and then Moody's and Standard & Poor's will lower America's gold-plated bond rating, and as the bond rating is the basis of our national character, then the United States will be so ashamed that it is cast into economic failure, and then China will become the global hegemon--and in fact this whole debt-ceiling debate has already revealed our politics as untenably fractious, so maybe we're going to lose our bond rating no matter what we do. Touch wood, but I think it's unduly fatalistic.

*Not to get philosophical, but I don't think attitudes are events. I just put this to an Oxford don and he said: "Beliefs held by a large number of people, or intersubjectively held beliefs, have causal effects." We think that attitudes are events, he continued, because we can empirically observe the events they cause. However (we agreed) the events are a proxy for the attitudes and the atttitudes themselves are not events.

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