Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Fantasy Budget

Imagine that you were sitting around the dining room table working on the family budget and discovered a $42 billion shortfall. Okay, so you're not likely to see that particular number while doing the family budget, but imagine finding that you're going to be flat broke, completely out of money in just two months. What would you do? What steps would you take to try to keep your family solvent?
Well, if you were part of the California state government what you would apparently do is point the finger at everyone else and then decide to do nothing at all for another month and just rely on IOUs to pay your bills. Of course, if you tried to use IOUs to pay your bills, you would get notices from those bill collectors saying, in essence, "yes, you do and we're shutting off service until you pay them."
I'm trying hard to comprehend this. California is usually looked at as the leader among progressive governments in the west. They're the role model. And they're rich! One of the wealthiest states in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. There are more mansions packed into twenty square miles of California than most states have from border to border. They are one of the global capitols of entertainment.
And they can't pay their bills. Maybe we should send a few housewives to Sacramento to give classes on budget balancing.
If you or I were faced with this situation, we would probably try to find a second job. Of course, there are only so many jobs and so many hours in the day so the feasibility of this plan is limited. Failing an extra income, it would be time to sit down with the red pen and start slashing out unnecessary items from the budget. Yes, cable television would be nice but eating is so much more important, so see you later TV. The mortgage takes priority over steak and caviar, so we'll be eating sandwiches and ground beef. The children have to have shoes and coats so we'll forego the designer labels and expensive haircuts.
That's how those of us who live in the real world deal with budgets every day. We would somehow have to get politicians to understand the difference between need and really really want, but most of them used to have real world lives. Didn't they?

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