Play Money

04/11/2011

When I was a kid, we use to play different board games usually with the use of play money.  It was fun to spend money with no consideration for whether or not we were getting any value for it.  Today, it seems that our Congress is still playing kids’ games.  As former Senator Dirksen once observed, “A billion here,  a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

I particularly find laughable the whole debate over spending cuts.  After all, any serious debate about the budget has to start with an objective, for example to significantly reduce unemployment.  Then one needs to decide on some serious goals to achieve that objective – like balancing the budget and having a business environment in the country that creates jobs instead of one that ships them overseas.

Instead, Congress has been arguing over cutting paltry sums from social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. However, despite the budgetary crisis, the military budget is strictly off-limits because of our concern that terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya somehow threaten our national security.  I wonder, though, how the people without jobs feel about that.  If you asked them, I would guess that they might be willing to forego dropping a few $5 million drone missiles on civilians in, say, Pakistan or Yemen for the opportunity to put food on the table for their family.

The ensuing budgetary debate between Republicans and Democrats even threatened to shut down non-essential governmental services.  Actually, to come to think of it, maybe that’s not such a bad idea anyway.  It’s not like most people receive much value from the federal government for the taxes that they pay.  By the way, that’s why they call them non-essential governmental services.

In the end, there had to be a settlement so that both sides could declare victory – and what a victory it was.  Even after all the cuts, the country will continue to have an annual trillion dollar deficit, the Federal Reserve will continue to print money (out of thin air) and the taxpayers will eventually have to foot the bill including the billion dollar bonuses for Wall Street.  Now how’s that for redistribution of the wealth?

You see, some things never change – especially politicians who will promise you the change you may desperately want and need.  In reality, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class – well they’re just plain screwed.  Just go ask your congressman what he or she is doing to improve things.  You’ll probably get one of those canned letters that says that the congressman is very busy working hard on their constituents behalf.  I forget, though, are they working hard or hardly working?  Truth be told, they’re in a congressional committee meeting somewhere on Capitol Hill trying to figure out just how to spend all of that play money.

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