The "cliff" is a metaphorical illusion -- a political construct. Forget the narrow confines of its binary problem (tax breaks for the rich vs. continuing insurance for the unemployed), a political problem allows for a creative, political solution. We should use this fake, ginned-up "crisis" to our advantage and solve the real problems faced by real Americans. We should demand that that happens.
It could be that the answer to what ails America economically is rewarding companies that operate with a healthy reality principle like the Triple Bottom Line system of accounting where decisions are predicated by the "Three P's:" Profit, People and Planet. Whatever we do, it's time for the country to age out of the fake value, paper-billionaire age and start looking for ways to create real value for investors, workers and the nation.
As the novelist Edward Abbey famously wrote, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell." We've all spent too much time in the casino culture that created the fiscal cliff to simply walk away from it unscathed. It's the way of the house, which makes a bundle whether you lose money or not. The fiscal cliff is a scary way of framing the fact that we need a mid-course correction in this country with regard to the way we do business in Washington and everywhere else in the country.
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. It seems sane to refuse to have the same corporations that caused this mess (or the lawmakers who represent them exclusively at the expense of taxpayers) dictate our options for solving it. It's time to call their bluff.
Adam Levin is chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.