You are grounded for a month, young man!

Much by accident, I happened to catch a portion of Christiane Amanpour’s interview with House Speaker John Boehner yesterday on ABC’s This Week. I couldn’t stand her when she was with CNN and I find that I still have little use for her opinions and slanted “journalism”.

The exchange I witnessed was captured by Brent Baker at Newsbusters here. Christiane, like every other leftist, was crying about the dearth of tax money to fill the government coffers:

Amanpour demanded of Boehner: “Do you not feel that by opposing” a tax hike on millionaires to pay for Obama’s jobs bill “you’re basically out of step with the American people on this issue?” She followed by yearning: “Do you agree at all that there should be any kind of tax increases?”

Being out of step? Higher taxes? Tax the “rich”?

There is an argument to be made that we should increase revenue to the government to help close the deficit – increasing revenue while cutting spending at the same rate does have the effect of doubling the rate of deficit closure and cutting the time required to do it in half. That is; however, a two part argument.

In business, we work both sides of the equation, so why is there resistance to doing this with government?

I think it can be explained this way, so let’s bring this down to a level that everyone can understand. Anyone with children, especially teenage children, will get this.

Assume that you have a teenager that drives to school. That teenager performs a service to the family by dropping off his brother and sister at their schools, saving mom and dad a lot of time. There is a value that service and the value is the cost of operation of the vehicle.

Normally, the cost to the family of the service is just the vehicle – $50 a week for gas – but periodically expenses spike due to maintenance, tires, repair, etc. Just like an economy, some of expenses  can be calculated and planned for – tire wear, oil changes every 5,000 miles etc. – and some can’t – an accident or a water pump failing, perhaps just extra trips to the market. Think of the tires and service as Social Security, defense spending and government operational costs. The unplanned issues would be analogous to natural disasters or terrorist attacks – the unplanned events can be on the income side, too – like mom and/or dad losing a job (similar to a downturn in the economy – maybe dad isn’t doing such a good job or the company decides to restructure or automate processes to eliminate cost and mom goes – maybe a parent gets sick).

So you are forking our $50 a week for gas and one morning the kids start talking about the new release of Gears of War for X-Box. It costs $100, so one of them says, “hey, we only need $25 for enough gas to last this week and if we pool our lunch money and use the leftover $25 in gas money, we can buy it, but we can’t tell Mom.” Being children, they decide that sounds pretty cool to have something that they want today without too much concern about tomorrow – instant gratification! Woooohoooo!

As it turns out mom has to go out of town for a week for a surprise business trip and now the kids have unplanned tasks that they have to do – running errands, extra trips to the soccer fields (that mom used to cover) – meaning extra miles and more gas consumed.

So now what do they do? Wal-Mart won’t take the game back – they have already opened it. The gas expenses just went from $25 to $50 and now they don’t even have lunch money to last the week.  They could go back to mom and dad to ask for more money but if they do, they are going to have to confess about buying Gears of War and using their gas money and lunch money to do it…and one of the rules that was agreed to by the teenage driver as a condition for being provided the car and gas money was that the $50 was for gas and only for gas. Period.

Mom and dad are on a budget and they have budgeted the $50 a week as part of a $75 a week plan to have cash reserved for tires, service and insurance premiums and they aren’t too keen about human caused disasters – like breaking the agreement but the kids have to have lunch money so the Bank of Mom and Dad has no choice to cough it up and break their budget. Now they have to fork out the $75 which means that no money goes into the kitty for the insurance, tires and oil changes (remind you of Social Security being unfunded?) plus, if an accident happens, there is no money to cover the deductible.

By using that money to buy a video game, the kids broke their agreement and in turn, they broke a trust. Do it once and learn from it, they will be forgiven and the $50 will keep coming – make it a habit and the money will stop – and maybe even the car will be taken away – because they have proven that they can’t be trusted to manage their funds appropriately and put them toward the approved use.

I can’t speak for all of the 53% of taxpayers but I do have many friends and acquaintances in the upper 5% of that group, the group that pay 58.7% of the annual income taxes but the peopel that I do know have a similar position to mine.We share similar reasons for disliking taxes.

The reason that I oppose paying more taxes is not that I can’t afford it – I can. It is not that I hate poor people or I blame the unemployed for their situation. It is not that I am greedy or selfish. I am not a bigot; I don’t hate or even dislike people of color. I’m not even an evil corporation.

I’m against paying more tax because I simply do not trust the United States Government to spend the taxes I currently pay wisely and if I don’t, why should I send more money to Washington just to see it wasted?

They have proven it time and time again. The Democrats want us to believe that Solyndra isn’t a scandal – I happen to think it is but probably for a different reason than they assume. I don’t really care about the political impact – it can and should fall on those responsible wherever they are. I think it is a scandal because a half a billion dollars was lost – essentially poured in a hole and burned. I feel that way about the “stimulus”. 700 million soaked up like a sponge – between the two, we are talking about 1.2 TRILLION dollars of waste – and they act like it is no big deal.

Now Obama and the Democrats want more gas money to cover for them buying Gears of War?  Not likely.

More money isn’t the answer without adding more discipline and rationality. Spending must be reigned in before another dime is increased in taxes. Programs and whole departments have to be evaluated to determine if they are meeting goals or not and if not, they have to go.

There will be those who will argue that this is too simple of an analogy to apply to government – it government is too big for something this clear and concise. I would argue the opposite; this is not a complex problem. I can assure you that there are decisions made on smaller segments of the government like this every day. Ever since I have been in positions with profit and loss responsibility, my bosses have always told me to spend the company’s money like it was mine. I do. I look at every decision as if I was taking the money out of my personal account for expenses or to invest. I spend it as if the consequences, good or bad, would fall on me and my family.

Getting to this point with our government would be a great advance because they spend money like it is free or belongs to someone else…and it does – us!

If the officials in government could just follow the “spend it like it was your money” philosophy, they could restore the confidence that they know how to spend thier weekly gas money.

Then perhaps we wouldn’t have to ground them.

3 thoughts on “You are grounded for a month, young man!

  1. I have to take issue with you, I cannot let this pass, Utah. Wal-Mart certainly would have taken back the game, even in its opened state, if the boys said it was not working properly. Unless, that is, they had too many returns on record, which Wal-Mart does keep track of nowadays.
    This is a disturbing pattern; first Colin Powell misrepresents Pottery Barn, which DOES NOT have a you-broke-it-you-own-it policy, and now this. And you, posing as a pro-business blogger. Sinverguenza!

    Other than that, I have no argument here. My liberal self was raised by a child of the Depression, and Dad instilled in me a fear of debt and destitution that has served me well. I really think there are times for debt, expansion, natural disaster, war, even this last stimulus was necessary, or would have been had it been applied correctly, like maybe unemployment compensation for some incompetent bankers. But I digress. We need to curtail our debt obligations, but as long as humans get elected to office, they will not vote against their own or their constituent’s interests; their job depends on it.

    So what we need to do is reverse that equation. What do you think of Warren Buffett’s idea? To wit:

    “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection.”

    I know the devil would be in getting this passed, but wouldn’t that be something we could get behind? Maybe a grass-roots movement to petition our current crop of representatives to get behind the bill or lose our vote. It would almost have to be a bottom-up effort to get it passed, and we would have to be vigilant as to attempts to pass ‘temporary’ exemptions, and off-budget legerdemain.

  2. “I’m against paying more tax because I simply do not trust the United States Government to spend the taxes I currently pay wisely and if I don’t, why should I send more money to Washington just to see it wasted?”

    AMEN, Brother Utah!

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