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Monday, August 01, 2011

Schrödinger's (U.S. Debt Negotiations) Cat-astrophe | A NOTE FROM THE FOUNDER

Schrödinger's (U.S. Debt Negotiations) Cat-astrophe

by Adam J. Kovitz

In 1936, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger performed a famous thought experiment whereby he imagined a cat being placed within a sealed metal container along with a radioactive mechanism that may or may not cause a vial of hydrocyanic acid to spill and kill the cat.  Schrödinger postulated that since the box is closed and we cannot observe the cat, it exists in two distinct states: alive and dead.  This concept is known by students of quantum physics as "Schrödinger's Cat".

In fact, this very thought experiment is one of the cornerstones of quantum thinking that anything can exist in any multiple of states or conditions as long as it is not being observed.

So what does Schrödinger's Cat have to do with the price of debt in the U.S.?

Funny you should ask...

As a recovering engineer, rocket scientist and lover of all things with umlauts, I can't help but notice how truly quantum our Government can truly be.

For example, the U.S. Constitution; it's been around for over two hundred years and is the backbone of our entire political system of checks and balances.  When it was written, our founding fathers had in mind an ideal form of Government and attempted to put it to paper and define this ideal.

Several amendments later, we have created countless laws based upon interpretations of this one document.  Some have interpreted it loosely as Thomas Jefferson did and favored State's rights; others have interpreted it more strictly as Alexander Hamilton did.  We have our people on the left, we have our people on the right, we probably have others somewhere in-between.

Are you seeing the connection yet?

Our Constitution is quantum, in nature, and seems to exist in several different states - each one of us thinks we observe the same thing but it is subject to infinite interpretations.


Because as observers of an absolute ideal, we can only begin to interpret it as best as we can. It can never be defined or put to paper with 100% accuracy, but we can attempt to approximate it.

Same thing with our current financial system.  Officials say that August 2nd, 2011 is the day that the U.S. will default on its debt unless Congress raises the debt ceiling which has been raised before without this unprecedented level of debate since 1917, when it was created.

Here's where the quantum fun comes in:  I am writing this on Friday, July 29th, 2011, not knowing what the outcome of the negotiations will be as of August 2nd.  It's just like Schrödinger's Cat!  I have no crystal ball to see into the future and until it becomes the present (perhaps by the time you read this), all outcomes of the debt ceiling negotiations exist:
1.)  Complete Arme-debt-ton - All hell breaks loose, Democrats and Republicans cannot see eye to eye, the U.S. defaults, soldiers don't get paid, Social Security recipients don't get paid.  There is panic in the streets and much gnashing of teeth.
2.)  Absolute Bipartisan Success - Both sides of the debt debate have finally come to an agreement, the debt ceiling has been raised, everyone goes out to the bar and tries to forget everything got as crazy as it did, people laugh and business gets done as usual.
3.)  Right-handed Victory - Democrats give in to Republican pressure in both the House and the Senate, Obama gives in as well, business as usual.  The foolish "tax and spend" Liberals suffer a major setback as the George W. Bush-era tax cuts are sustained.  The Tea Party coalition declares major victory and blames the Obama Administration for being the cause of the turmoil.
4.)  Left-handed Victory - Republicans give in to Democratic pressure in both the House and the Senate, Obama and the Democrats claim victory, business as usual.  While major spending cuts have been agreed to, the more well-off Americans who have not been "paying their fair share" and larger corporations are getting taxed higher rates to bring in additional revenue.  Democrats blame the Republicans for stalling the talks and Obama delivers a moving speech thanking both sides for coming together.
5.)  Deferred Disaster - Due to indecisive political stalemates and posturing, the debt ceiling is raised incrementally, and not the full amount required, without either side getting a full victory.  This only temporizes the debate, frustrates the American people, the business community as well as the IMF and other holders of U.S. debt like China.  The debt ceiling talks resume and completely overshadow the 2012 Presidential election season.

Wow!  Did I just blow your mind?

That's just five possible quantum-type possibilities in the U.S. Debt Ceiling multiverse.     If you have others that you would like to share, I would love to have you mail them to me at

And while there won't be a quiz on this stuff later, one thing is for sure:  by 11:59pm, August 2nd all the possibilities will be reduced to one reality that, for better or worse, we will all have to live with.

All my best,


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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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