Sunday, March 6, 2011

Simple Economics

Okay, I need some help here.

I hear every Republican from Limbaugh to Ginta, from Ayotte to Glenn Beck saying the same six sentences: 1/ We have to cut the deficit 2/ We have to cut the deficit by cutting spending. 3/ We have to cut the deficit by cutting spending on pensions of public workers. 4/ We have to cut the deficit by cutting spending on wages demanded by public and private unions.  5/ We have to destroy unions to cut spending and to cut the deficit  6/ We don't like Obama, Obamacare or anything he wants to spend money on, all of which if he is for it, would, by definition  increase the deficit.

I think I've got that right.

I'm not sure where this deficit actually is. I mean, can I look it up on line? Or is it contained in some government publication? Or does Glenn Beck keep it locked in a safe next to his blackboard?

Is it the money we owe on feberal government bonds? Or is it the interest payments we make on those federal government bonds? Or both?

Is there an actual dollar amount we can look up?

Does it change day to day?

If we balanced the budget this year, i.e. spent no more than we took in, would the deficit be smaller? But no, I think the deficit must be like our mortgage--it never gets smaller unless you sell your house and pay it off.  I seem to reall we balanced budgets in the Clinton years and there was talk about "Paying down the deficit," but for some reason, neither Republicans nor Democrats seemed  to think that was a very good idea at the time. The deficit didn't see to matter much then.

So what changed?

Everyone, even Glenn Beck, seems to agree when Saint Ronald Reagan took office he tripled the deficit in four or maybe eight years. And Ronald Reagan is the guy everybody means when they describe themselves as "Reagan Republicans." Which means, I infer, "Good, successful Republicans everyone really liked and wants to be again."

So if Reagan was such a deficit disaster, why do all these Republicans seem to think he was the best Republican ever?

One other thing. Republicans are always talking about how the deficit is just like your own home budget, which for some reason they think everyone does at their kitchen table. Personally, if I tried to do anything other than eat and read the newspaper at my kitchen table,  my wife would be throwing silverware in my direction--I tend to do budgets on my computer, which is not all that far from my kitchen table, so I guess maybe I'm putting  too fine a point on it.

But anyway, the way my budget works is I see how much goes out to pay bills--I call that "Spending." And I see how much comes in--I call that, "Income."

And since there seems to be certain things I have to spend on--house payments, car payments, groceries, the out go is more or less fixed. I might self flagellate over having been foolish enough to buy a house, but I need my car to get to work. And school payments for the kids--well, maybe education is one of those wasteful spending items, but I kind of like my kids and hope if they go to school and actually learn something, maybe someday they can support the baby boomers by paying into social security. So call the education expenses an "Investment." Maybe I'm crazy, but it's just one of those things I remain delusional about. I mean, I hear John Boehner and Mitch McConnell saying every day the deficit is something we are doing to our kids. But, for my money, what we are doing to our kids, or at least what I'm doing to my kids right now, is paying for their education. So, as far as spending goes, okay we won't go out to dinner or buy new shoes or spend on anything other than what my wife considers the bare essentials.

But then, there is the income thing: I can do things to make more money.

The government can do things to make more money: It can raise taxes, for one thing. But last time I remember, the Republicans did not want the government to make more money and they cut taxes. This, I think I understand this correctly, is because the government is: BAD.

Do I have that right?

The deficit is BAD. The Government is BAD. I guess the goverment is more bad than the deficit.  Am I off base here?

But if it really is as simple as my own home budget, the one I write up at the kitchen table, wouldn't the simplest thing be to simply raise taxes?

I can think of a few taxes I wouldn't mind seing raised: Like income taxes on everyone above $250,000, or better yet above $300,000. (I like round numbers, especially those which exempt me.)

And gas taxes. I just paid $3.35 a gallon today. And you know, it wasn't all that painful. If it could eliminate the deficit, I'd be happy to pay $5 a gallon for six months or maybe even a year, which I've read would eliminate the deficit and balance the budget presto slam bang. I figure at 10 gallons a week, that would be an extra $16.50 a week, which would mean maybe skipping one visit to McDonalds. That's the least I can do for my country. It's more expensive than buying one of those red/white and blue stickers for my car or a set of American flag lapel pens, but isn't real patriotism something that should cost you something?

If it is really that easy to do with just one or two tax changes, then what is everyone screaming about?

I mean, we could pay those teachers in Rhode Island and those firemen in Wisconsin and we could finance health care and whatever.

Now, if we could just bring all those boys and girls home from chasing phantoms in Afghanistan and Iraq, then we'd have money to spare. We could pay off the deficit, build roads, finance schools and even maybe have a real health care system.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Kelly Ayotte might even say, "Absolutely."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Michele Bachmann, Farm Socialist

I'm happy to report that darling of the Tea Party, vanquisher of all things socialist, Grand Inquistor of creeping socialism, and representative of the hardy people of Minnesota, Michele Bachmann, has been sucking at the government teat, the biggest nipple of them all, actually, the farm subsidy program, to the tune of $250,000.00. These payments have occured over years.

Ms. Bachmann tells us President Obama is a creepy Islamofascist, determined to convert our fair capitalist nation into a government run collective and all the while, she takes the government dole.

Of course, farm subsidies pose a far bigger problem than simply revealing Ms. Bachmann for what she clearly is.

 We pay farmers to grow the wrong crops: corn, soy, alfalpha, and we subsidize ogres like Monstano and their patented genes to reduce the diversity of our crops, making us sitting ducks for the next micro organism which develops a taste for the one or two varieties of plant in our fields. It's a case of unintended consequences, of which Ms. Bacmann is more than happy to avail herself.

Some CEO's take a dollar a year salary, after they've made millions for years, when things turn sour for their company, or when embarrassing issues arise. They say, Hey, the principle of the thing matters more to me at this point, because I'm rich enough to be able to afford my principles.

Not so with Ms. Bachmann.

So that fine example of moral rectitude and conservative purity, that soul mate of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who extol her daily, is, in fact, happy to be paid by the government she abhors.

Government handouts for welfare queens, government pensions, Medicare, Social Security all ananthemas for Ms. Bachmann.

Well, who is the welfare queen now? I guess, if you are a corporate welfare queen, that doesn't count. Certainly, if you are a Federal employee (as is Ms. Bachmann) getting a government hand out, well, that doesn't count either.