Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome back, muse!

My dad sent me a rather interesting little thing today.

Biting the bullet - cutting expenses. I HOPE YOU WILL PARTICIPATE AND DO YOUR PART.

The President ordered the cabinet to cut $100 million from the $3.5 trillion federal budget.

I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2000 a month on groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc, but it's time to get out the budget cutting axe, go through my expenses, and cut back.

I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio, 1/35,000 of my total budget. After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2000 a month; I'm going to have to cut that number by six cents. Yes, I'm going to have to get by with $1999.94, but that's what sacrifice is all about. I'll just have to do without some things, that are, frankly, luxuries.

(Did the president actually think no one would do the math?)

John Q. Taxpayer

On the one hand, we're spending less, which is always good to see. On the other... 1/35,000? Completely insignificant. 2.8x10^-3% is not the sort of cut to be really celebrating.

Far too often, I hear the argument that I couldn't balance the budget if I were in charge, by merit of the sheer difficulty of the problems faced. People have tried to tell me that I can complain all I want about the government spending, but would I really cut social security benefits? Would I really cut education spending? Well, yes, actually.

The New York Times put together the "Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget" back in November. It's language and setup seems to be arguing that it simply can't be done well without at least some tax increases. Somehow, I managed to overcome the shortfalls without one single new tax. My method for this was simple. I had my copy of the Constitution open on the desk. For each point, I attempted to find justification in the Constitution. If I could not find it, I cut as much as possible from it. If I could find justification, I looked at effectiveness, cost-benefit relationship, and strength of justification. Only if all three were strong did I keep it. Lo and behold, by the time I reached the taxes section, I had overcome the shortcomings.

I have one complaint about this app beyond the biased language at places. It didn't allow me to cut enough. It allowed me to raise eligible ages for Medicare and Social Security, when I would prefer to remove them both entirely. It offered reduction of the Federal Workforce by 10%. I can't say for certain, but I get the feeling that justified cuts are more along the order of 70%.

Making this government effective again is really pretty simple. 223 years ago, some of the smartest men of the time sat down together for a convention, and figured out how to do all this. Additionally, by their actions, they rendered anything else illegal. This confuses me then. We figured this out already. Why are we still having these kinds of problems?

I don't care about "wouldn't it be nice if..." I don't care about "We just have to do...." I care about what will work, and what is allowed and mandated by the Constitution. We as a nation failed when we tried to ignore the constitution. It was the only thing standing between us and total collapse. We chose this. If we don't see dramatic reform in the next few years, returning us to the Constitution, we will fail. What then are the odds of those changes happening?

I despair for the future of this country. I really do.

Apologies for the unusual style, blogger seems to be petulant today.

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