Funny numbers that aren't so funny

As much as I want to not watch them, I still am drawn to the Sunday morning news talk shows. Today, as can be expected, the top subject is the debt ceiling deadline coming up in just 16 days.

There is always a Democrat and a Republican on there, trying to "not negotiate the deal on TV." I am watching Rep. Chris Van Hollin (D-MD) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Fox News Sunday.

Democrats almost always argue by pointing to the absurdity of the Republicans' stance. The Republicans almost always argue from a heartfelt, pragmatic point of view that the system is f'ing broke and needs to be fixed NOW.

As I listen, I keep thinking that this argument is not congruent. We should remember that just because one can argue convincingly and well, that the argument is not necessarily sound.

I must be a little slow, because, it really just came to me listening to Van Hollin justify raising taxes to match the "framework" (I love that term) of the Clinton years, when everything was balanced and peachy.

So I came up with a story... an analogy of what is actually going on in DC. I think I have decrypted the BS to show you exactly what is happening.

For you to understand my analogy, you must remember that in government, once something is budgeted, it can NEVER be removed without inflicting a mortal wound on the body politic.

Here is the analogy:

You work and you have a decent job. Every year your employer gives you a pay raise whether you deserve it or not. You get used to this pay raise and treat it like an obligation. You are doing so well that you get a few credit cards and you start buying yourself stuff. You go out to eat twice a week, you vacation in the Caribbean every year. You buy a really nice house and furnish it well. You are making payments on your house, but you also took out an equity loan on the increased value of your house. Instead of paying down the credit cards, you took the equity money and bought yourself a big 32' boat. Since you now have a boat, you need to use it and it costs $600 to fill it up each time you go fishing every other weekend.
One day your employer calls you into his office and tells you that not only can he not give you your expected annual raise, he tells you that you are going to have to take a pay cut. "*$#%@" you say. He can't do that to me. But he does.
So, you run out and get a few more credit cards. You still have good credit since you have been making your minimum payments and banks really, really like it when you pay back very little principal. Ahhhhh. That's better. Now you have some money.
Because you have a lifestyle and you deserve it, you keep doing what you are doing, but you start doing even more. You go out to eat three times a week, fill up the boat four times a month, you send the older kids to the best colleges and let them intern in Europe over summer vacation on your dime. Life is good.
One day, all of your cards are maxed. Your equity loan is drained. Your house is worth less than all of the debt you have attached to it and your checking account is empty. NOW, WHAT DO YOU DO? 
Simple. Demand a pay raise from your boss. A really big pay raise. So, you march into his office and demand your raise. Your boss says no. You are pissed. You put a sign in the front lawn of your employer telling everyone that your boss is a tightwad and won't give you a raise because you have debts that need to be paid. He needs to do the right thing. You go on TV and say that he needs to eat his peas and broccoli. You stomp out of your next salary meeting with him.
Your boss really likes you so he puts you into counseling and wants to help you get out of this mess. He tells you that he will co-sign a new credit card for you on one condition. You must quit spending so much money. You balk. You tell him that everything you spend money on is important. He says that in the past two years you have run up four new credit cards to the max and that you are spending more now than before he hit you with the salary cut.
You tell him that if he agrees to increase your pay every year for the next 10 years that you won't increase spending much more and that you will use most of the extra money to pay off some of the credit cards (and oh, by the way, you will need three more credit cards to get you through.)
Your boss tells you to just cut your spending back to what it was two years ago when you were eating out only twice per week and boating only twice per month and you kids were going to an in-state university. You are incensed. The nerve of the man. You can't cut back. The restaurateur expects you to visit him every week. The marina really needs that extra gas money that you spend. Those professors at Yale can't do without your generous payments.You just CAN'T spend less.
Maybe, just maybe, you can not spend more, but you surely cannot cut back.That just wouldn't be fair. Besides, you are going to agree to quit spending more on some 'stuff' in the future. Isn't that good enough?
Your uncle steps in and says that maybe the employer could let you keep working, and you can get the three new credit cards if you promise on your mother's eyes that you will cut back in a few years. You think really hard and after much groaning and whining, you kinda, sorta agree.

SO. Here we are on Sunday July 17, 2011. What do we do? The President (you) won't cut anything without a promise of new credit cards (increase debt ceiling) AND a pay raise (tax increase). Your boss (majority of taxpayers/TEA Party Republicans) won't agree because he knows that he can't trust you as far as he can throw you. The credit card companies (T-bill holders) are going to turn on you like all creditor do if you stiff them, unless you pay them back. (At least they won't break your knees like the Mafia would do.) Your uncle (Sen. McConnell) wants to cut a deal so that the house of cards doesn't fall, but EVERYONE knows that it eventually will. If not now, then in a few years.



Craig Hollins said…
But that uncle is saying you have to keep your boat but cut your kids' school fees and health insurance. And it's not right that the people in the Caribbean should suffer without your tourist dollars so you have to keep doing that as well. If only you were allowed a pay rise because you know the boss has lots squirreled away and can easily afford it. A pay rise, coupled with the boss letting you get rid of that expensive grey boat (which is more a status symbol for the boss rather than a need of yours) would enable you to pay down some of the debt and become more productive.
The Asterisk said…
I have a feeling that the Chinese would love for us to sell all of our grey boats.

Yes, the boss is sitting on a lot of money and I am SURE that if he gave that hugh pay increase, the extra money would go to a good use.

Speaking of productivity, productivity is one reason why many unemployed will never see their old job again.

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