Federal spending lacks common sense
The U.S. Treasury Department has estimated that the national debt, which is currently 14.1 TRILLION dollars, is estimated to expand to 19.6 TRILLION dollars by 2015. Since large numbers are not always easy to comprehend let’s take a look at what a “trillion” really means. It would take 1.8 trillion pennies to fill up the Empire State Building. A trillion seconds is 32,000 years. A stack of 1 trillion $100 bills would be 789 miles high, which is 144 times the height of Mt. Everest (the world’s tallest mountain). If you went into business on the day Jesus was born
and lost a million dollars a day (7 days a week, 365 days per year) it would take until 2737 to lose just 1 trillion dollars. Are you starting to get the picture about how badly the nation’s finances have been handled by bunglers and bureaucrats?
Since 1961, the year I was born, the federal debt (not to be confused with the federal deficit) has never gone down. The level of gross mismanagement of federal funds at the national level is mind-boggling and unconscionable. I am extremely conservative with my own personal finances and because of this mindset I do not have a car payment, my mortgage is paid off and my credit card balances are zero. I cannot comprehend the idea of spending $10 when I am making $1. I began to think about this situation and have come up with the following scenario to try and understand by paralleling government as if it were a family:
The Ineedit’s are a family of 4: Mrs. Demo Ineedit, Mr. Repub Ineedit and their two teenage twin boys Waste and Want. They live in a nice middle class neighborhood. The father earns a decent living and if they lived within their means could live a very comfortable life. However, this isn’t the case for a variety of reasons: The husband and wife like the finer things and refuse to look at price tags of “must have” items. They have let their credit card debt get out of control and owe more on them than they can afford to pay. However, they pay their minimum payments and even though the interest mounts each month, they aren’t going to allow it to become stressed. Their kids have been conditioned, by observing their parents’ lack of fiscal discipline, to have all the fancy new toys, gadgets and items that all the other kids at school possess. Mom and dad just don’t have the heart to say, “No, we need to make sacrifices and spend within our means.” Waste and Want, who don’t work and don’t pull particularly good grades in school, believe that they should be entitled to brand new cars and once again, mom and dad just didn’t have the heart to refuse and bought them each new cars. Between insurance, car payments and credit card debts the bills began to mount exponentially and far outpaced Mr. Ineedit’s paycheck.
In spite of the mounting debts incurred by the family, Mr. Ineedit decided that he needed to be a good neighbor and he bribed his neighbors to be his friend. He gave them money that he could use to pay his own debts and rationalized that if he didn’t the family wouldn’t be popular anymore. His logic was that he owed so much already that giving away a few dollars here and there wouldn’t make a difference. One day it snowed heavily and a man knocked on the Ineedit’s door and offered to shovel the snow for $25. Mr. Ineedit started to accept, but Mrs. Ineedit told him that he had to offer the job to his son, Want, who needed money too. Want said he would do it for $50. Mr. Ineedit reluctantly agreed, however, after the Want started the job he realized that he needed help so he offered to pay his 2 friends, Graft and Greed, $25 each and told his father that he miscalculated and the job would now cost $75.
As time passed the interest on the debt was greater than the money that Mr. Ineedit made and it caused them to lose their house, cars and all the friends who they once gave money to turned their back on the family. The couple claimed bankruptcy and eventually divorced blaming each other for what happened between them. Waste ended up in jail and Want ended up homeless.
The moral of the story:Just Say No to Waste and Want!
If people are expected to live within their means to avert financial disaster, why can’t the government do it?
Mike Matteo is a resident of Tampa, Florida where he was a public and private high school teacher who is the education writer for Westchase Patch. Mike has written twenty-eight full-length feature film scripts, stage plays and works with students to improve their SAT, ACT and FCAT scores. He has also written or co-authored three books, including one on education. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.