What Makes Thanksgiving Awesome! November 23, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events.
Tags: Thanksgiving, War On Thanksgiving
When I started to think about what I was going to write this weekend, I thought for sure this post would be titled “War On Thanksgiving”. I thought it was a oh so clever twist on the so-called War On Christmas and the observation that it’s really Thanksgiving that is drawing the societal short straw. Unfortunately, a Google search reveals that this is not clever at all and that many, many people have noticed the consumerism of Christmas encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday (K-Mart opening on 6 a.m., that’s right, a.m. as in morning, on Thanksgiving must have given it away!).
So instead of whining about Wal-Mart and Best Buy and people who for some reason think elbowing their way through crowds for “bargains” on electronics is good sport, I thought I would write a positive post about what makes Thanksgiving so great (right there with Christmas in my opinion):
- Its simplicity. It’s just a holiday where we give thanks for the people and things we have. That’s all. It doesn’t say what things you should appreciate. It doesn’t tell you that you should get new things to celebrate or give to others. It’s just a celebration for what we have.
- It’s all American. You want to know who celebrates Thanksgiving? The United States and Canada. That’s it.* With that being the case, it would seem that we should take some national pride in this holiday. (*Yes, if you research Thanksgiving, you will see that other countries celebrate holidays they may call Thanksgiving. But I think you will find those have more in common with our Memorial Day or Independence Day than our Thanksgiving.)
- It’s inclusive. Anybody can give thanks to the people and things we have. It’s not a religious holiday (though it can be if you want). It’s not a holiday just for a certain subsection of the people. It’s a holiday for all of us.
- Its food. Sure, other holidays have food. Your 4th of July hot dogs, your Halloween candy, your Christmas ham and cookies. But the food we have for those holidays we eat all the time. But Thanksgiving has food that if not exclusive to it, it’s at least rare we eat outside of that holiday. Turkey. Not deli turkey, but whole turkey (roast it, fry it, whatever, it’s all good!). Stuffing. Cranberry sauce. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Green bean casserole (may be the only reason condensed mushroom soup and French’s french fried onions still exist). Pumpkin pie!
- Football. The NFL has its now traditional three games on Thanksgiving. I prefer college football over NFL football, but Thanksgiving is the rare day where I will usually catch a little of the NFL. But for college football, it’s like an extended weekend of football! Starting on Thursday night with the “Egg Bowl” rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, right through Friday and Saturday, it’s college football galore.
So why not instead of going into the hustle and bustle of shopping and fighting with strangers this next weekend, enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday relaxing with your family and friends and appreciate those we know and love? Trust me, the stores aren’t going to give up on you if you don’t show up on Black Thursday/Friday! Happy Thanksgiving!
The Truth About The “Obamacare” Cancellations November 10, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events.
Tags: Barack Obama, Obama, Obamacare, Obamacare cancellation, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Wading through all the rhetoric, I’ve come to these conclusions:
- Health insurance companies are trying to take advantage of the situation – Health insurers have been sending out notices cancelling plans. In those notices, they blame Obamacare for those cancellations. They further offer new more expensive plans that the insured will be enrolled in if they take no action before a certain date. However, they FAIL to mention the new insurance exchanges where not only they might find a cheaper, better option, but also might find that they qualify for credits toward their health insurance. (Another ploy has been trying to pressure current insureds to renew their current plan or be force onto new, more expensive plans, once again without making it clear that finding another plan on the exchange is also an option.)
- Any plan COULD have been grandfathered and remain with a few modifications – Plans in place prior to March, 2010 could remain, as long as they were modified to cover children through the age of 26, end lifetime coverage limits, provide a summary of benefits, end arbitrary cancellations, and have most of the money spent on actual health care as opposed to administrative costs and bonuses. NONE of the other Obamacare provisions would apply. (However, if a company opts to start making other changes to the plan, then yes, then they have to make it Obamacare compliant. Insurers also can’t enroll anyone new into the grandfathered plans.)
- A lot of people who “like” their plan only care that they have something they can call “health insurance”, even if their plan sucks – Prior to Obamacare, there was the existence of what was called “junk insurance”. To be fair, the people who have these plans often don’t even know that their plan sucks, they just know they have “insurance”. These plans often cover VERY little, and barely qualify as insurance at all. (And sometimes what people are buying are “supplemental” plans, which are called “supplemental” because they are supposed to supplement other plans, not be the plan.)
- The people going on television thinking they are getting ripped off by the law often are not actually getting ripped off – I’ve ran across two examples of people who have gone on tv as examples of being wronged by Obamacare, but once people walk them through their current plan and the options they have, they actually come out ahead. The first example, the insured would indeed have to replace her $46 per month “supplemental” plan with a $97 per month plan. The rub though is the $97 per plan is an actual health insurance policy with real coverage, not just some minor supplemental coverage. So when this woman actually has health issues and is in need of services, the savings will be significant. The second example, the insured could actually pay less ($194 per month versus $256 per month) for a plan with the same deductible, but lower maximum out-of-pocket limits and more coverage. In other words, it’s a better plan for less premium.
- But even with all that said, President Obama should have never said “if you like your current plan, you can keep it” – The fact of the matter is that some people were probably were aware that their plans were “junk”, but were still happy with it. Also, there are certainly plans that were borderline compliant that people were happy with. But I think maybe more importantly, that statement sent the message that as long as you have a plan, you have nothing to worry about. So a lot of people were under the impression that they could just forget about it, when actually that hasn’t been the case. In other words, they thought the law would either not affect them, or in as so much as the law would have a positive effect, it would just have that positive effect without them having to do anything, to shop around for a new plan. And some are seeing that as a betrayal of trust.
- And it makes me wonder yet again if the mistake here is trying to work within the current framework of insurance, or should health care even be in the private sector? – For most of us, insurance is a big hassle that we would just like to forget about. When is the last time you looked at your policy? (really any policy, health, auto, home?) We get it because we know we need it, but we don’t really have the time to figure out all the ends and outs of it all. I think for most of us, when it comes to health care, we just want to be able to know we can get the care we need without going into bankruptcy. I am just not sure how well suited the health care industry is for what normally makes a free market system work. Even in the examples above, those two consumers have media members walking them through their options. Before that, they really thought they were getting screwed over. Everyone else has to know to go to a website or make a call (a website that doesn’t work so well and from what I hear the customer service provided over the phone isn’t always so great either) and then try to work through the complexities of insurance options on their own. Add to that the totally nonsensical billing for hospital procedures, and it’s hard to have the knowledgeable consumer base to create a truly competitive market.
Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Know Nothing President November 3, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events.
Tags: Barack Obama
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One thing that annoys me is that the “go-to” defense of members and defenders of the Obama administration (including Obama himself) when something bad happens is that he was simply unaware of it (but now that he knows, he’s as mad as anyone about it, blah, blah, blah). Examples include:
- He was supposedly unaware of the Affordable Care Act website issues until AFTER the website went live. For this to be true, either the people running this thing outright lied to him about the progress of the website or they were too incompetent to know whether the website would work or not. In either scenario, heads should roll. The only other option is that President Obama didn’t even take enough of a passing interest in the project to get updates. For something that has become known as Obamacare. As in President Obama Care. But probably not important to….Obama?
- He was supposedly unaware that the NSA spying on world leaders. Now I understand he is not going to know every action the NSA takes. But in his meetings with the NSA, I would expect them to hit the high points. Spying on world leaders would seem to qualify. (Though with as much as has come out recently, I think the safest assumption is the NSA has decided it needs to know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE, and is acting accordingly without limits.)
- He was supposedly unaware of the IRS scandal regarding conservative groups until he saw it on TV just like the rest of us. Once again, you would think the President might get a heads-up regarding such things before it hits the news.
- Other examples include: The failed Fast and Furious ATF sting operation and the Justice Department obtaining Associated Press phone records.
I am not sure if the people defending him thinks this places the President in a good light (or at least a more innocent light) but it does not. It makes him look incompetent. It’s his job to stay on top of things. It’s also his job to hire people who will help him stay on top of things, not keep him out of the loop. You can’t effectively lead if you never know what is going on. So if it’s a lie that he doesn’t know, it’s not an effective lie for absolving the President of responsibility. And if it’s the truth (the scene from Independence Day where the President is informed that he didn’t know about aliens at Area 51 for “plausible deniability” reasons comes to mind), that’s even worse. Because if you aren’t in the loop, you ain’t in charge!
Real Problem, Manufactured Problem October 21, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events, Miscellaneous, Politics.
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Real Problem – Hunger in America. That 49 million Americans, including 16 million children, can be food insecure in the richest nation in the world is simply a disgrace.
Manufactured Problem – Debt Ceiling. The debt ceiling is not in the Constitution. It’s an arbitrary limit on the amount the Treasury can borrow in order to pay the bills as a result of budgetary items already passed by Congress. The limit originally was created because Congress no longer thought it was practical to approve every debt issuance by the U.S. government, so they ceded control to the Treasury up to a given limit, the debt ceiling. It was never meant to be used as a tool by one political party to extract concessions from the other.
Real Problem – Affordable Care Act website – This is the website where those who need to obtain health insurance would be able to compare plans, shop, and purchase that insurance. All reports are that the website roll-out has been an unmitigated disaster. The funny thing is that opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been so focused on the misguided shutdown/debt ceiling strategy that they haven’t hammered this legitimate issue (and would probably be a good ‘exhibit a’ for a ‘government can’t do anything right’ argument against this legislation).
Manufactured Problem - Affordable Care Act – Don’t get me wrong, I think the legislation is flawed (mainly in the sense that instead of focusing on the “affordable” part, the focus was just on getting the uninsured insurance). Still, it seems like the worse case scenario is that everyone who was uninsured remains uninsured. However, I just don’t see of the doomsday scenarios actually playing out. And the website can be fixed.
Real Problem – Long Term Solvency of Social Security/Medicare – It is indeed an almost certainty that given the age demographics of our population that these programs will cost more in the future.
Manufactured Problem – Short Term Solvency of Social Security/Medicare – But the problems do not start tomorrow. Any solution should not be half-baked and rushed through Congress. Personally I also think these two programs are too important to include in any “grand bargain” that a lot of folks, including President Obama, seem so fond of. We have time to deliberately develop different options, weigh the merits of each, debate the pros and cons, and come up with the best solution. (We also need to keep in mind that cutting benefits is not the only way to solve this, but you can also raise revenues, or some combination of the two.)
Real Problem – Media Echo Chamber – I think the bad part about the Fox News’s, MSNBC’s, talk radio, certain websites, is that you can now receive media coverage through your own political prism without your viewpoints ever being challenged and lose the sense that others may disagree and actually have good reason to do so.
Manufactured Problem – Lack of Realism in Movies – Ok, I do think this can be somewhat of an issue when a movie is made about real events (Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, JFK, etc.) because unfortunately we tend to forget the “based on” part of the “based on a real story” in our minds. But somehow this idea has been extended to clearly fictional movies, such as the recently release Gravity. Gravity makes no claim to be based on any true story. Yet we have some, including a famous physicist, nitpicking every detail in Gravity that is not quite right. To paraphrase the MST3K theme song, you should repeat to yourself that it’s just a movie, you really should just relax.
Party Before Country October 5, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events, Politics.
Tags: GOP, government shutdown, John Boehner, Marlin Stutzman
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Well, our government is failing us again. At this point, it’s not even a surprise anymore. Heck, really if government ever shows signs again of working properly, that’s when the news networks should go all “breaking news” on us. While some want to blame both parties (and I can kind of see that from a ‘we sent these guys to Washington to figure this kind of crap out so we can get on with our own lives’ perspective), I find it hard not to pin this one squarely on the GOP. After all, they are the ones who somehow decided that doing their jobs or not is subject to negotiation. They are also the ones who somehow think it is plausible that a President that has become so synonymous with a law/policy that most people call it by a nickname that has HIS NAME IN IT will just sign off on getting rid of said law/policy. It’s a ridiculous notion.
To go further, many say this is the fault of 80 or so “tea party” representatives who signed off on a letter urging this ridiculous fight to take place. However, by my count, there are 435 total representatives in the House of which 233 are Republicans. If my math is right then, 80 ain’t the majority of nuthing and should have the power to do nuthing…..unless you let them. So I think House leader John Boehner, and to the lesser extent the other Republicans, deserve more of the blame. Conventional wisdom says that if a clean continuing resolution to fund the government was brought to the House floor today, it would pass. BUT it would pass because of Democrats joined by enough Republicans to give the bill the votes it needs.
My thought is John Boehner decided it doesn’t look good for him as a leader or his party of a whole if he needs Democrats to pass a bill he brings up to a vote. He can’t get the 80 or so “tea party” to vote in unison for a clean continuing budget resolution, but he can get the other GOP folks to go along with the 80 or so “tea party” folks to vote for their silliness. And he has decided that he would rather have 100% of the Republicans vote together, no matter how silly and no matter what impact it has on the country, then to have a split GOP vote that keeps government doors open. I guess he thinks it creates the illusion of leadership over the party even though this is far from it.
Now I think Boehner has decided that he just has to get something out of this. Otherwise we went through all of this just to pass a bill that would have passed months ago without shutting down the government. We even have this quote from GOP representative Marlin Stutzman, “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t even know what that is.” He also mentioned that the party couldn’t be “disrespected”.
But having a unified party or not being disrespected and/or looking bad, none of this has a darn thing to do with the good of the country. Neither is the idea of “winning” the shutdown (Obama is right to say that there is no “winning” here, this is not a game and it affects real people and has real consequences). If he ever decides to put country first, John Boeher could end this by simply bringing the Senate continuing budget resolution bill up for a vote. I also think the other GOP members could help put an end to this by simply refusing to go along with the tea party games. Until then, I guess our only hope for stopping this is a procedural maneuver Democrats have started to try to bring the bill up for without the need of Boehner to bring it up, though that will take at least a couple of weeks to work its way through.
- Now 18 House Republicans Are Ready to Throw in the Towel in Obamacare Fight – Dems Have the Leverage and Only John Boehner Can Stop Them (theblaze.com)
- Speaker John Boehner: An out-of-control drunk who can’t lead or govern? (capitolhillblue.com)
- Let this one go, Mr. Speaker (azstarnet.com)
- Why John Boehner Won’t Hold a Vote to Reopen the Government (businessweek.com)
- Just Vote! (thinkprogress.org)
Hunger: Difference Between Not Having Resources To Solve A Problem And Just Not Making It A Priority September 22, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events.
Tags: Food, food insecurity, food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, United States
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How is it in a nation where around 50 million people are food insecure, including around 17 million children, that there is a bunch of yahoos in Congress (a majority in the House) that can actually in good conscience vote to cut aid for food?
I mean, the fact that people want to eat is a sign of government excess? It’s not because it’s some sort of ‘get rich quick’ scheme. The average recipient gets $133/month (or about a lousy $1.50 per meal). It’s not that people are too lazy to work. 40% of households receiving aid have at least one working adult (though you get into another situation where you can get a job that barely clears the income limit and really fall short of what you need to feed your family yet don’t qualify for assistance). It’s not that we don’t have enough food. 40% of the food produced in this country each year just gets thrown away. And it’s not that we don’t have enough money. This nation’s GDP is over $16 trillion. We certainly can afford to feed everyone.
Now it’s true that this won’t ever pass the Senate, much less get signed by President Obama. But although our food insecurity problem is among the worst for advanced economic nations, it is not a good sign it’s a problem we are going to solve anytime soon. Apparently feeding people, even children, is just not a priority.
Sorry Obama, But I’m Closed-Minded About Syria September 8, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events.
Tags: Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, chemical weapons, military action, red line, Syria
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President Obama is set to make a speech on Tuesday night to convince the American people of the need of military action in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in that country. This probably doesn’t make me a good citizen or whatever, but I do not believe there is anything Obama can say that would convince me that this is the correct course of action. I am just so solidly in the ‘no more wars’ camp at this point. And this just bothers me.
- First, hearing all the discussions about whether or not we should do this or not, the fact that more people WILL die as a result of our attack just never comes up. And tomahawk missiles just don’t know the difference between responsible parties and innocent people. The only thing I ever hear is whether or not Americans would be at risk, as if the lives of Syrians are not human or something. The human costs should be at the forefront of any calculation for an attack, but it doesn’t seem to enter into the equation at all.
- What does seem to be a major variable in the calculation is some vague notion of “credibility”. I have even often heard that an attack on Syria would almost certainly not change anything in that country, but we still have to do it to retain “credibility”. I’m sorry, but I think “credibility” is a stupid reason to kill people. Also, exactly what happens if we lose “credibility”? We lose influence? As near as I can tell, we don’t have any influence to lose in the Middle East, at least not anymore.
- Speaking of “credibility”, how much “credibility” do WE have when it comes to so-called “weapons of mass destruction”? Iraq anyone? You know what’s a much better way of earning credibility than killing people? Telling the truth. Our track record is not good on that front lately.
- So it seems clear that chemicals were used. But did the al-Assad regime do it? Or was it the rebel opposition? Now, not everyone acts rationally. But it probably makes more sense for the rebel opposition to try to coax American involvement than it does for al-Assad to risk it unless he was desperate. It doesn’t appear that he should be that desperate yet.
- The rebel opposition are not ‘good guys’. In fact, al-Qaeda is involved with some of the rebel factions. I just don’t think the saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ can possibly apply to al-Qaeda.
- So chemical weapons are awful, but this has been a human tragedy even before their use. Over 100,000 dead along with over a million fleeing the country. Is the message we are sending here is that it’s okay to commit atrocities against people as long as you do it the “right” way?
- Obama has also said that action would be “limited”. But how can he promise that? Either our actions have a point, in which case that action must continue until that point is achieved, or there is no point, in which case we are pointlessly killing people.
So no, there’s nothing Obama could say on Tuesday that’s going to change my mind. Further, until we learn that problems are not solved by killing people, and killing people is not solved by killing even more people, there is no hope for peace on earth.
- Stay Out of Syria’s Inferno: Americans Want Peace, Not Another War (huffingtonpost.com)
Greed Is Not Good August 28, 2013Posted by gesvol in Miscellaneous.
Tags: Blackfish, documentaries, greed, In God We Trust, Zipper
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I spent the weekend at a film festival. I will tend to gravitate toward documentaries I guess because we don’t have an independent film theater in Birmingham, so if a documentary is not made by Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock, it doesn’t screen in this town. I also tend to see documentaries demonstrating injustices because…um….I don’t know, maybe I like to be mad at the world or something. Anyway, I saw three such documentaries.
Zipper is a documentary about the decline of the amusement district at Coney Island. So basically the story goes like this, a real estate investor buys a large chunk of the property in the amusement district (basically overpaying for it). But he doesn’t want the land for its zoned use, amusement. He is banking on being able to convince the city to rezone the land for condos, malls, restaurants, and big box stores. To help that process along, he shuts down the amusement rides and attractions on the property he owns, just to help the area fail. Add a business-friendly mayor (hello Michael Bloomberg) and said developer pretty much gets exactly what he wants (the amusement district has been reduced to 9 acres), everything else rezoned for the stuff the investor wants to bring in. I am sure the Coney Island Applebee’s is very special though.
In God We Trust is a documentary about the Bernie Madoff scandal and his former personal secretary’s pursuit of exposing everyone who was behind the scheme. Spoiler alert, Madoff was an assclown. It was interesting to hear a little bit about how the scam worked. Things like the fact that Madoff and his cohorts occupied a single floor of a building in which pretty much no one else was allowed, while legitimate business was conducted on all other floors. Or that they used an ancient computer (IBM AS/400) to produce the fake statements (I wasn’t quite clear about why that was. It seem like the gist was that the statements would seem more legitimate, but I’m not sure why. And also his coconsiprators were not particularly well-educated.
Blackfish is a documentary about killer whales in captivity for entertainment, particularly one named Tilikum, that has a track record for killing trainers (3 to be exact, most recently in 2010 at SeaWorld). Now I always thought that the whole SeaWorld thing wasn’t the most ethical thing in the world. But it actually appears to be worse than I thought. I guess I always wanted to think that the ‘why’ they have the whales in the first place would be something like they were sick or something. Reality is they were hunted as baby whales for the sole purpose to be used for entertainment. I also wanted to think that at least SeaWorld had some educational value. But it turns out SeaWorld lies about whales to better fit what happens to them in captivity, (For instance, they will say killer whales live on average of 25-30 years, when truthfully they live 50 to 90 years. Seaworld killer whales only live 25-30 years. Or that 25% of all killer whales have collapsed dorsal fins when that percentage is closer to 1%. It’s the SeaWorld killer whales that have the collapsed dorsal fins.) Apparently SeaWorld doesn’t have much value.
But really all of these are the same story. It’s all about making as much money as you can however you can. The real estate guy will no doubt bring in business that technically will generate more revenue than, say, ‘Shoot The Freak’. Free market says that means we are better off. But I would imagine the clientele that is enjoying the area is quite different. Say what you will about Bernie Madoff, but he made a lot of money for a long time. SeaWorld brings in billions. But it doesn’t seem like the “invisible hand” of the free market is really working here, does it? Is it the most efficient use of resources?
- Blackfish: A killer documentary (mission-blue.org)
- Joe Sitt, Coney Island, and the Tea Party playbook (theweeklynabe.com)
Minimum Wage Thoughts August 11, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events.
Tags: Labor, Minimum wage
Just been thinking about the minimum wage lately. There are some trying to push for an increase, and while I don’t think such a movement stands a chance in the current Congress, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth talking about.
- While the current national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, historically the minimum wage level has been pretty stagnant. As recently as 2007, it was only $5.15 per hour.
- As long as the minimum wage does not change (unless Congress passes a law to change it), anyone making minimum wage will in effect take a pay cut each year, because each year they will have a little less spending power.
- As a result, the minimum wage was actually higher in years past when adjusted for inflation. (1981 = $8.61 per hour, 1974 = $9.47 per hour, etc.)
- While often characterized as teenager jobs, about half the people making minimum wage are 25-year-old or older. I would imagine most of these folks are not working these jobs just for a little extra spending money.
- Also, the fact that the minimum wage for tipped workers is still $2.13 per hour seems particularly absurd.
Now I could see some argument for whether or not the minimum wage should be a “living wage” or not. But it would seem to me that it would not be too much to ask for the minimum wage to be restored to 1974 levels, to index it to some inflationary measure, and restore the tipped minimum wage to some reasonable percentage of full minimum wage.
Serious Budget Cuts? July 28, 2013Posted by gesvol in Current Events, Politics.
Tags: budget cuts, debt ceiling, GOP prosposed budget cuts, government shutdown
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As we head toward another round of debt ceiling and threats of government shutdowns silliness, I think it might be good to try to put some of the proposed spending cuts by the GOP in perspective. The United States government is a major operation, so any budgetary item you could look at is going to have a large dollar amount attached to it within the context of, say, our household incomes. And at some point when our minds see big numbers, it just starts to translate them all as ‘big’, regardless of how they may compare to each other. So I thought it might be helpful to look at the cuts scaled down to what we may consider more normal levels.
So let’s say we take some of the proposed cuts and divide them by a billion. You would get something like this: Subsidy for PBS: $0.45, Save American’s Treasures Program: $0.03, National Endowment For The Arts: $0.17, National Endowment For The Humanities: $0.17, Hope VI Program (public housing): $0.25, Amtrak Subsidies: $1.57, Community Development Fund: $4.50, Department of Energy Grants to States For Weatherization: $0.53, New Starts Transit: $2.00, Intercity And High Speed Rail Grants: $2.50…….and on and on. But you get the idea. Now compare these items to the size of the fiscal budget scaled the same way: $3,540 for FY2012. Or how about the national debt: about $16,880. It’s pretty easy to see that these are not the things that are busting the budget.
So when somebody says that Republicans are not serious about solving any sort of budget problem and just using that as a pretense to cut things they don’t like, this is why. Unless you start looking at actual big-ticket items such as military spending ($929 FY2011) or Medicare/Medicaid ($802 FY2012), then you really aren’t making any serious cuts. Of course, you could also look to increase revenues, but I know that’s just crazy talk.
Now somebody may say if it’s not much money, then recipients won’t miss it then. But that’s kind of silly too. The U.S. wouldn’t miss it much, but the recipients certainly would. It’s like Bill Gates deciding to stop giving an annual gift of $500,000 to a charity. To a man worth $67 billion, $500,000 is not going to make a big difference. But to a charity worth much less than that, losing out on $500,000 could be a crushing blow.
Certainly there would be some people who would say that the government shouldn’t fund something like the National Endowment For The Arts even it was just $500 (in real terms). And that’s an okay debate to have. But that’s a different debate than a debate about deficits and debt. So it shouldn’t be had under false pretenses. Of course, having honest debate in government is way too much to ask for.