The Treasury Department has warned that the continued failure by Congress to raise the debt ceiling would leave the United States unable to pay all of its bills and may force the country to default on its government bonds. Here are some helpful answers to the most common questions about the debt ceiling crisis:

What is the debt ceiling?

The debt ceiling is a specifically defined yet changeable clause in official federal legislation that ensures that our country becomes embroiled in maddening, childish theatrics every few months or years.

How high is the debt ceiling now?

Just like normal ceiling height.

When will we hit the debt ceiling?

On Thursday, Oct. 17 at precisely 5 p.m. Eastern time, when the nation’s $46 billion cable bill comes due.

What happens if the government defaults on its debt?

The United States will lose the credibility and respect we incorrectly assume other nations still hold toward us.

How would a government default affect the economy?

Picture a cake, small crumbs of which fall off during each slice, or transaction, whenever money is lent to institutions from the Federal Reserve. It is a thick, rich sponge cake with icing. The icing is the American people.

How would a government default affect me?

It’s always about you, isn’t it? Prick.

Has the government ever defaulted on its debt before?

No, although it came close in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes installed the White House’s first telephone, then ordered 900,000 pizzas.

What do Republicans want in exchange for raising the debt ceiling?

Reasonable solutions to create an affordable, private, cost-effective health care system, a renewed emphasis on the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country so great, long-term investments in our economy and infrastructure to build a stable and sustainable middle class, and a return to constructive political discourse.

How can I explain this crisis to my children?

You have kids? Uh-oh.

Are the debt ceiling crisis and government shutdown connected?

Technically no, but in many Eastern veins of thought it is believed that all things in the universe are connected. The cherry blossom and earthworm do not know the other exists, but is it not the fallen petal that provides nourishment to the earthworm, and is it not the earthworm that enriches the soil for the blossom’s mother tree? Perhaps there is more truth in seeing the world and everything in it as one than in believing that things are separate.

Why do we need Congress to raise the debt ceiling?

You know what, you’re absolutely right. We don’t need Congress. Let’s just do it ourselves! Come on, everyone!