Take This Shovel…

...Because We Can't Help Ourselves!!!

Happy Ground Hog Day.  Just like the movie, I feel like the government keeps making the same mistakes and empty promises over and over again.  Yesterday the White House revealed a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year 2011.  Approximately $1.3 trillion of that is going to be deficit spending.  I don’t think I have railed about big government and its form of budgeting yet, so I think you’ll be in for a treat.

The article I refer you to is located here:

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/article_5617a774-0f4f-11df-a5ca-001cc4c03286.html

  I couldn’t find the orginal source from the Washington Post, but the author of the website gives Lori Montgomery the credit for her piece.  Suffice to say, I am dismayed by every line I read.  The one that gets me the most is this utterance about government spending in the bureaucrat dialect a-la Dan Pfeifer.

“This is a budget that makes tough choices while investing in initiatives to create jobs and help reduce the economic pressures facing the middle class.”

BALONEY.  They don’t get it.  $282 billion for economic recovery and job creation through 2012?  And where was that in the past stimulus packages?  Where was the money for jobs creation, small banks, and business incentives for the first 18 months or so of the crisis.  A big reason that got included is because Scott Brown’s election screamed at the legislators that ITS THE ECONOMY STUPID!!!  JOBS, JOBS, AND MORE JOBS.  The problem here is that we know government is a poor steward of funds and the incentives I see will not get to the root of the problem.

Examples?  Okay…A continuation of  Obama’s “signature” initiative (their words) of the Making Work Pay tax credit of $400 per working individual.  A continuation of unemployment benefits, a $5,000 incentive for small companies to hire someone.   I could go on.  All of those programs strike me as rather uninspiring and certainly not revolutionary.  That $400 is nothing.  Unemployment benefits just keeps a bad situation from getting worse.  I have heard that the $5,000 could be gamed by employers (I bet that language will get amended) and besides, what sane businessman is going to hire someone just because he gets a $5,000 tax break when he  doesn’t need a larger roster and can’t afford one if he did.  Just about any salaray costs more than $5,000.  Sure, it helps take away a bit of the sting of an employer’s costs, but it alone isn’t enough.

That is a lot of money just spent on stuff that won’t make things any better – we might float along, but all we are collectively doing is helping to dig a deeper hole for our debt.

I then see the current budget proposal cuts, it was like $250 billion saved over 10 years?  That is it?  That is a less than 3% of the 9 TRILLION DOLLARS of deficits we would rack up in that time.  That is ON TOP OF the hole we’re in now.

Here is my proposal to the government.  Look at government involvement as a problem, not a solution.  Everyone knows that government is inefficient.  Remove their involvement in programs where possible.  Replace the money funded there to grants and direct investments in sectors/technology/etc.  Then, look at all the craptastic programs of the Bush era.   You obviously can’t replace national security work with a private company, but you sure can make it better and more cost effective.  My personal pet-peeve…

The Department of Homeland Security.  Ugh..DHS and TSA are dirty words to me.  Why would you talk about budget controls in one sentence and in the next talk about giving DHS more money in the next?!?  Are you kidding me?  One failed terrorist plot and you’re going to simply waste more public funds on 1,000 more fancy machines that will be able to look at you without clothes, but still won’t prove to be foolproof.  You are putting all your faith in technology, when training, technique, and policy are what needs to change (and those are cost-effective solutions).  Technology-only solutions, like everyone seems to be okay with, is a terrible solution to stop plane-based terrorism.  Instead, CUT their budget and make them work smarter, harder, and lay off 6 of the 8 TSA agents who sit around and play grab ass with each other as I go through the security line at the airport.  Those are our tax dollars playing grab-ass.   While you do this, enable and train the remaining TSA personnel to profile, screen, and NOT extend the rights of US citizens to aliens.  Cut through the BS and you will have a cheaper and more effective TSA – which will improve the DHS budget and stem the tide of always giving  organizations like it more money – like government is doing this year and next!

Take that mentality and extend it to all forms of government.  Government workers are terribly inefficient.  They have an accurate sense that they can’t be fired and that they can not work and get away with it.  I have a friend who has other close friends (who I don’t know and they are glad I don’t know them) who work for the government.  The stories she tells me about them not doing real work, studying for their master’s degree, and watching ‘The Office’  at work turns my stomach.  We are paying them to take advantage of the system and implicitly encourage it by letting such behavior be the standard.  Hold people accountable.  Separate the wheat from the chaffe and fire some folks.  Lay people off.  If private business ran like the government, just imagine how things would be.  And people think government is the solution?

Lastly, we all need to take a hard look at ourselves.  We do not hold ourselves to a high enough standard.  We repeatedly elect the same  poor politicians.  We admire the same tired, largely terrible examples of human beings…and we call them celebrities.  There is too much ‘me’ and not enough ‘us’ or community in our daily lives.  If short-sighted selfishness, excess, and immoral behavior are the things we value, I don’t feel sorry for us letting things get this way.

  I don’t like paying taxes or health insurance any more than the next guy, especially when I see what I pay, what I actually take, and then what I give back through my volunteer work.  I have been a good investment for society.  I pay out more than I take and I make good decisions.  However, my good choices are not encouraged while other people’s bad choices in life have been rewarded.  Be it bailouts for homeowners or an expanded budget for HUD, it is that thinking that enable the Clinton-era initiatives that push home-ownership on those who truly couldn’t afford it and in large part, brought this financial crisis about.

 That $400 tax credit I get  – don’t give it to me!  $400 over the course of a year doesn’t make a difference.  Its not enough money.  Keep it .  I don’t need the government’s help and I don’t want my kids to have to pay for it.

The public option for health-care – keep it!   Government can’t run anything as well as the private sector and you haven’t addressed the root problems and issues with health-care.  They have more to do with tort reform, bureaucracy, and a tainted Congress more than any procedure’s cost.  In this case, the private sector is part of the problem because healthcare doesn’t operate in a truly free market.

Bailing out the big banks in my name.  LIAR!  I watch those around me lose their jobs while the fat cats know they’ve become too big to fail as their tentacles extend further in Congress while their ‘top performers’ get billions of bonuses because of their ‘value’ to the company.  Show me their value to the economic collapse of the past two years then.  I don’t want them to get an extra cent in ‘bonuses’ until that whole cost is repaid – and I talk about more than just TARP or other handouts.

I recognize that these are a series of broad, sweeping statement.  Reality is not going to let the solutions be so easy – but I think you catch my drift.  Government is detached from reality.  Its spending is out of control, and we are hitting the point where something has to give.  This country will soon be between a rock and a hard place.  The economy is too weak for the Fed to raise rates; the devaluation of our money can only go on for so long until we look like post-World War I Germany (it took a wheelbarrow’s worth of money to buy a loaf of bread); and we simply become further indebted to the Chinese to finance our reckless behavior because of government’s disfunction and the American populace’s implicit okay to have all the services government offers without having to pay for it.  Nothing is free folks.  You eventually pay for it, especially when the largest portion of the economy is becoming a sector that doesn’t produce anything besides beauracracy and laws!!!

 I’ve said it in earlier posts, so I won’t belabor the post, but the government needs to enact:

A) Tort Reform

B) Energy Investment – Infrastructure & Independence

C) Effectively Educating All of Our Children

And we as a people need to embrace:

D) Personal Responsibility

E) Fiscal Disciplne (linked to personal responsibility)

F) A Sense of Community / Non-Selfishness

G) Rejection of Apathy with Government and Democracy

Believing in the ideals of our founders, following their example, and following The Constitution will set us free.  We need to truly invest in America and put away the shovel; because we’re in a hole folks and we only continue to dig.  Getting out of that hole isn’t just government’s responsibility because when you leave it in their hands, well, you see what you get.

– G.S.

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