Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cutting Spending in America

The common person is very much misled when it comes to cutting federal spending and understanding what "the government is".

Starting with the latter, the government is not some evil alien that we can battle like Sigourney Weaver did in the movie series "Alien".  Rather, the government is us; you and me, our next door neighbors.  They have jobs just like you and I and no matter how they are portrayed, they are well-intentioned and are really trying to do their best for their fellow men and women.  So when someone says something bad about "the government", they are really criticizing themselves.

Now to the immediate task at hand, cutting spending.  The reality, and it's hard for the common person to accept, is that discretionary spending (the amount of spending that can actually be cut), is very small compared to the size of the deficit and the enormity of the debt.  The last time the federal budget was balanced was when President Clinton was in office--it's been quite a while.  But the truth is that the single best thing we can all do to balance the budget is to get people back to work.  If you have a business, the most responsible thing you could do would be to hire people (and not at minimum wage but at a reasonable wage so that someone can make a living and feed a family of four).  Now if this were a tough time for business, that would be a tough thing to do but these aren't tough times for businesses, at least for corporations.  The stock market has nearly doubled from a low of 6,626 in 2009 to about 12,500 today.  Corporations are once again making huge 1 and 2-billion dollar profits.  Those aren't tough times.

But as far as cutting government spending, understand that every dollar you cut from those programs affects jobs.  In other words, there is a person tied to that dollar that you want to cut.  With millions of Americans already unemployed, this is hardly the time to throw even more Americans out of work.  Are Republicans saying they want to throw people out of work?  Not a good strategy.

If you want to talk, rather, of cutting waste, there isn't an American alive that disagrees with you.  The last time it happened, again we have to go back to the Clinton Administration, when Vice President Al Gore cut billions of the federal budget and in fact, it was his work that helped pave the way for the budget to be balanced.  Given the excesses of the eight years that followed President Clinton, we no doubt can find more to trim.  But understand that this waste is a small, infinitesimal fraction of the federal budget.  If you cut military dollars, you cut soldiers or equipment that the soldiers need to defend the country.  If you cut the National Parks budget, you cut the job of a Ranger somewhere.  If you cut education, you throw a teacher out of work.  And so on. 

So if you say you want to cut spending, just understand that what you are really saying is you want someone to lose their job. 

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