Merle Hazard Hurtles Over the Fiscal Cliff

BY Paul Solman  September 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM EDT


On this page, we like to feature monetary minstrel Jon Shayne, a Nashville investment manager whose nom de croon is Merle Hazard. Merle has written and sung such classics as H-E-D-G-E, In the Hamptons, The Greek Debt Crisis, Inflation or Deflation? and Diamond Jim. You can access his entire oeuvre from here.

Recently, he penned a classic-to-be, Fiscal Cliff, save for the drawback that it contained neither Merle himself nor any moving pictures at all. Back to the drawing board he went. Or rather, back to the drawing board went ace illustrator Grey Blackwell and crack animator Matt Emigh. Grey, Matt and Merle have truly gone the extra mile this time around.

We end today’s post with a request of our literate readership. Merle’s videos are now being used in classrooms around the world. But they are far easier to work into the curriculum if the lyrics are translated. Would any of you be willing to offer translations into other languages? NewsHour has partnered with Amara subtitling to caption and translate video. Here, for example, is Fiscal Cliff in French. You can sign up as a volunteer (and see other translated NewsHour videos) here.

As for those of you waiting to hear who won our “Compose-a-song-for-Merle” contest, don’t put off your estimated taxes (Sept. 15) before the announcement. Merle was inspired by one entry, but we ran into a possible copyright issue with the song he chose. The issue is still being researched.

Meanwhile, interest in the economic implications of the cliff is picking up. See Bloomberg Businessweek today. The Wall Street Journal also just published a warning from Moody’s.

FISCAL CLIFF

by Merle Hazard

VERSE 1

It was a sunny day down in Washington. I took my Chevy out for a spin.
While I was stopped at a light, I saw some cars to my right, and then what happened
nearly did me in.
House Speaker Boehner pulled his wheels next to Senator Reid’s, and then they got
into an awful tiff.
So Boehner said “Let’s fight,” and Reid said “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Let’s have a drag race to the fiscal cliff!”

CHORUS 1

Fiscal cliff
The fiscal cliff is a danger zone.
It’s where grown men go when budgets are blown.
If our Senators cannot agree, they make
Massive cuts automatically.
When the budget talks have come to a halt,
People go there and they threaten default.
What will happen if we hit the fiscal cliff?

VERSE 2

It was a game of chicken; I was really scared. I didn’t want anyone to die.
But Boehner revved it up, and said “Keep taxes low,” and Reid said
“No, we must keep spending high.”
And then it finally happened, what I always feared. And, yeah,
it looked as bad as you would think.
Our elected reps skidded out of control
And drove their cars right over the brink.

CHORUS 2

Fiscal cliff
The fiscal cliff is a danger zone.
It’s where grown men go when budgets are blown.
When our Congressmen cannot agree,
Taxes go up automatically.
When the budget talks have come to a halt,
People go there and they threaten default.
What will happen if we hit the fiscal cliff?

VERSE 3

[Spoken]
Well, officer, my memory of that day has never gone away. I often find myself thinking, “What if?” And what I’ve realized is that if they’d only been wise enough to compromise, well…

[Sung]
They could have saved us from the fiscal cliff!

CHORUS 3

Fiscal cliff
Wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah wah…

© 2012 Merle Hazard

This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown- NewsHour’s blog of news and insight.