Sunday, January 20, 2008

Show Me The Money

"We believe--or we act as if we believed--that although an individual father cannot alienate the labor of his son, the aggregate body of fathers may alienate the labor of all their sons, of their posterity, in the aggregate, and oblige them to pay for all the enterprises, just or unjust, profitable or ruinous, into which our vices, our passions or our personal interests may lead us. But I trust that this proposition needs only to be looked at by an American to be seen in its true point of view, and that we shall all consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves; and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life of the majority."
Thomas Jefferson 1813

It’s an election year, folks. That means that all members of the House of Representatives and a third of the members of the United States Senate face the ordeal of getting themselves reelected. Well, maybe it’s not such an ordeal. The perplexing fact in this country is that, although the Congress as a body receives grades of F minus minus from the populace, at least 90% of incumbents are odds-on favorites to be reelected. But, one can never be sure, so when it appears that the economy is on the way down, all members of Congress forget about party differences and jump on the bandwagon to do something. For the time being, dear reader, forget about Republicans and Democrats on the hill of our Capitol. Everybody has joined the “Let’s do anything to get reelected” party.

Apparently, what they’re going to do is pass an economic stimulus package of ultra-temporary tax cuts. So, in all likelihood, in just a few weeks, you and I are going to get a check in the mail from our beloved friends at the Internal Revenue Service. With the check will probably come a form letter that reads, “This gift comes to you courtesy of (fill in name of Congressperson). In the interest of our national survival, you are urged to spend it as quickly as possible.”

Hey, friend, I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth (or any of its other orifices). So, if that check does come I’m going to at least deposit it in the bank before anyone has a chance to figure out that the United States Treasury that wrote it is insolvent.

For those of you who are not regular readers, it may come as a shock to find out that our very own United States of America is nine trillion dollars in debt. So, when the Congress and the President, each with a performance rating below where the scale starts, proposes to send out over one hundred billion dollars in tax refunds to you and me and the Joneses down the block, I have to ask “where is the money coming from?” Since our national checkbook has a balance of negative nine trillion, in order to send out these checks our Treasury will have to borrow more money. And, you may ask, who would loan such big bucks to the US of A? I would answer that it will be the some groups to which we already owe the nine trillion. And in that group are a whole bunch of governments and other entities that are not necessarily fans of America. Hey, for all I know, Osama bin Laden may own a few hundred million in T-notes.

Let’s forget the national security implications of having hocked our government to people who don’t like us. Let’s just look at the economics. Nine trillion dollars in debt results in over two hundred billion dollars in interest payments each year. That, my friends, is a whopping big chunk of pocket change. If we didn’t have to pay it out in interest we could just divide it among us and I assure you we wouldn’t need an economic stimulus package. Because of the rather immoral fiscal irresponsibility of our four most recent Administrations, when we need money for an emergency (assuming for the second that economic stimulus is an emergency) we need to go out and borrow it. I don’t know about you friends, but if the maven and maveness managed our personal finances the way the government has managed its finances we’d have gone out of business long ago.

Wouldn’t it be great, dear reader, if one of the 435 representatives or 33 or 34 senators up for reelection stood up in either the House or Senate chamber and took a stand against increasing our debt by the amount of whatever this stimulus package is going to cost? What if s/he spoke and acted for fiscal responsibility? What if s/he made it clear that the Government should not spend money whenever the President and Congress feel like it, without considering whether, in fact, we actually have the money to spend? Wouldn’t it also be great if that member of either the House or Senate was rewarded with reelection just for voting against an economic stimulus package that we cannot afford. Do we three hundred million Americans not deserve a Congress and President who before enacting legislation that requires the country to spend first ask “Show me the money?”

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