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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The check's in the mail - but the Postal Service can't afford to deliver it.

I know it has been a while. As I have said before, the lack of posts here is not because I have nothing to write; but because I have too much. Life has been busy, so taking the time to clear a thought and post it is sometimes hard.

Just a quick (I think, we will see after I finish writing this if "quick" really applied) thought or two on our country and the financial mess we find ourselves in. Now, if you do not think the country is in a financial mess, or the only problem is we don't tax those evil rich people enough - you might want to just move on to a blog about puppies or apple fritters. Otherwise, let's go!

The United States (as most countries on earth) is what I consider to be bankrupt. We as a nation are continually paying out and promising to pay out much more than we are taking in. Now, legally the U.S. is not bankrupt because no debt has been defaulted on and the U.S. still has a credit rating that allows it to borrow money to cover these pay outs. However, the constant spending of more money than that which is raised is not sustainable. I have a problem with that. No person, company, or other entity can continue spending more than they take in. It just won't work.

I have come to the conclusion that the average person in the U.S. is both stupid and ignorant when it comes to money, especially the finances of the government. A lot of people seem to think that the government has endless supplies of money. (a lot of government officials can be counted among this group) If you have read many of the posts on this blog you have seen one of my supreme lessons - THERE IS NO GOVERNMENT MONEY! If we could just get people to understand this, I think all but the extremely lazy and ignorant among us would stop looking to the government to solve and pay for everything. The government has NO MONEY directly, only the ability to raise money from taxes and tariffs and to borrow it. This should limit the amount of money that the government pays out, right? If you know that you and your family have $2,000 a month to spend, would you repeatedly spend $2,500? Would you donate to help your friends and neighbors to build a barbeque pit (or similar)? No, most people would cut expenses, trim the budget, and otherwise try to live within their means. Frivolous expenditures would be eliminated. When you are not taking in much money, everything other than food and shelter become frivolous.

I am constantly amazed at the number of people that are living off of the government in one way or another. Now, to be fair and in the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I benefit from government programs. She is disabled and we collect a Social Security check every month. It is not even a third of what she made when she was able to work, but it helps. Maybe we should turn it down, but we are not that altruistic. I also pay into Social Security every month, as did she when she worked, so I do not feel like we are abusing anything or anyone. The true surprise to me is all those that live off of government grants and programs. We need to cut the government expenditures. Most agree with this even if they are ignorant. The problem is, no one wants to cut anything that remotely benefits them or anyone they know. The problem is, the government is one of the least efficient ways to get money where it is needed. Think, when was the last time that you were impressed with the way a government program or office you were exposed to was run? I am not referring to specific government employees. There are wonderful hard working and dedicated people working at all levels of the government. I am talking about the operation of the office/bureau itself. Government at all levels is famous for using too many people, too much red tape, too many forms, etc. This makes government very inefficient. There are millions of government employees. You cannot convince me we cannot do without a large percentage of them. But, government has been growing. During this recession, government grew. While government revenues decreased, government spending, hiring, and payrolls INCREASED! This is idiotic.

The other problem is mentioned above is the people living off of government grants and programs. There are homeless advocates, mother and children advocates, student advocates, immigrant advocates, small rodent with spinal problem advocates (OK, maybe not), and by in large some level of government funds their existance. These advocates are outside of the government but exist because of government money. These are the people that scream the loudest when cuts are announced. "What about the homeless?" "What about the abused?" "What about the children?" are the cries that ring out when any cuts are announced. That's another thing, there have not been any real government cuts in decades. Very few if any government programs have ever been asked to operate on less money this year from the year before. Most of the cuts are from what they agency asked for, or was budgeting/budgeted for - which is almost always an increase. Washington (and some state capitols) is the only place that getting a 3% raise is touted as a "cut".

My point here (not too quick, huh?) is that we as a nation do not have the money to continue to act as a parent to everyone. The spending has to be stopped. That means programs REALLY have to be cut. That may mean that something that you support will be cut. That may mean that my wife's disability check will become smaller. We will all have to cope. I hope it means that hundreds of thousands of people that are living off of "government money" today to do research or act as an advocate for some cause will be looking for a REAL productive job very soon. We MUST support the politicians that are trying to make real cuts in spending. If not, EVERY program may be cut as the government will not have the credit rating to borrow money to fund them.

note - I just read this and I know it rambles a bit. I think I said what I was hoping to, but not as coherently as I had hoped. Sorry.