Skiing and the fiscal cliff have never before been written about in PW Insight and I suppose are rarely uttered in the same breath. But both are topical, actually have lots in common and are certainly part of this year’s holiday rhetoric.
I learned to ski relatively late in life — at 40 — when my wife could still say she was 30-something, my daughter just turned 10, and my son was nine. Some friends took the family to Big Bear, a Southern California resort that is just so-so as far as skiing is concerned, but an easy drive from most parts of Los Angeles.
My pal, Tod Paris, a CFO by day and sadistic amateur ski instructor when on the slopes with adult beginners on the weekend, started me out on what he said was the least daunting hill. “Pizza, pizza,” Tod screamed. Skiers know that pizza has nothing to do with food. I fell, bruised my ribs, hurt my right ankle. I was frightened and swore that I would never ski again.
My family, however, did well. So my swearing aside, to keep up with them, I eventually engaged several real instructors, each of whom instilled their own styles and methods to keep me standing and allay my fears.
Fast forward 20+ years. The ski season is about to get under way, and I am excited. When I look back, what seemed like the steepest, scariest slopes then do not look so bad today at all.
Likewise, could it be that all the fears about the looming fiscal cliff — metaphorically a double black diamond that is being talked about non-stop — also will dissipate? Los Angeles Times journalist Doyle McManus in an editorial last week called the fiscal cliff merely a slope that in reality “may not be as alarming as it sounds.”
With the holidays just around the corner, some progress is being made, although few believe a final resolution will be reached before the end of the year. Both sides of the political spectrum are offering their ideas, perhaps akin to ski instructors espousing various teaching methods, and both sides are talking about meeting “somewhere in the middle.” (How ’bout at the Mid-Chalet Café?)
Let’s also not forget that the tax increases set for the first of the year can be delayed by Congress, or as McManus wrote, “… by a stroke of Timothy F. Geithner’s pen.” Federal spending cuts can be slowed down as well.
So while there will likely be some pain ahead, just as there is on those first runs every season even for experienced skiers, let’s keep our wits and our faith that those Washingtonians in charge will lead us down the path in the least hurtful way.
— Roger Pondel, email@example.com