Is your household like mine? I need to know. Especially in this one particular area and at this particular season.
When I and/or my wife see something we need or want, we look at the checkbook and see if we can afford it. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. Sometimes we save up and buy it later. Sometimes we start out with the intention of doing that, but the money gets sidetracked to other things (school, Taco Bell, etc.).
Usually when that happens, we eventually decide we didn’t really need whatever it was anyway. If it was electronic in nature, by the time we can afford it there’s another model out that’s cheaper and better. In either case, waiting turned out to be not just the prudent thing to do, but the more satisfying thing to do.
To me, this just makes sense: if you can’t afford something, don’t buy it. And even though I, personally, find Dave Ramsey’s voice very annoying, I think he agrees with me.
So why can’t our government do this? I don’t know that they’ve ever heard me, but surely someone in government has heard Dave Ramsey.
Just for the simplification of the math, let’s say our government took in $100 in taxes. If this were my household, you know how much money that would give us to spend? This is not a trick question. The answer is: $100.
No, it’s not. It’s actually $80, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Let’s say the government takes in $100 billion dollars. Here’s another non-trick question: how much should the government then have available for spending? $100 billion, right?
Only in a sane world and our government—like pretty much every other government in the world—is certifiably insane. See, our government takes in (for illustration’s sake) $100 and spends $150. And they’ve been doing this for such a long time that an annoyingly large portion of that $150 is just paying off the interest on old debts (forget about paying off the debts). Under the current administration alone we’ve gone $5 trillion dollars further in the hole that used to “just” be $9 trillion.
What’s the solution?
Some politicians are actually suggesting that we only spend what we bring in—or maybe even spend less than we bring in so as to use the difference to pay off that debt. Makes sense to me. In fact, to me, it seems like the only choice.
I just got through reading an article by people who hate this idea. You know why? Because to pay off our debt and get on a sound footing might take 20 to 30 years and, during that time, we might actually have to use our heads. No more just spending like crazy on stupid stuff. The word that keeps getting floated around for this idea inEuropeis “austerity” (though they probably use some furrin’ word!). It’s easy to rail against austerity because the word itself sounds bad, but really, it’s the only thing that makes sense. You can’t spend yourself out of debt.
Finally, back to that point I was alluding to earlier about why I would only have $80 out of my $100. Because $10 would get put in the offering plate at church and $10 would get put in savings. My wife and I have been doing that for years and—even though both presidential candidates say my family’s income puts us in the poverty class, we don’t owe anyone anything, drive a nice car, have a nice house, and go skiing every winter. If we can do that, why can’t the government?
Although, to be honest, I don’t want everyone going skiing the same week we do ‘cause that’d get kinda crowded.