Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Friend, D

My friend Diana DeGette, chief deputy whip of the house of representatives, sent me an email. I did not realize we were friends, but right there at the beginning of the email, she said it. Not only am I a friend, but I am a Dear Friend! Had I known we were so close, I might have voted for her. I want my friends to be successful. And, she is. Actually, she did not need my vote. My congressional district was not even close.

Diana, or D, as I so affectionately call her (did I mention that we are dear friends), told me that her priorities include:
  • Embryonic stem cell research
  • Enhancing and expanding the children's health care program to provide coverage to millions of low-income children who live daily without health care.
  • National health care.
  • Food Safety.
  • Combating global warming.
I am a little surprised that D did not list first and foremost that her #1 priority did not have something to do with getting the U.S. economy on the right track or getting our over 1 trillion dollar budget deficit under control, or maybe something about helping to create high-paying jobs to replace the close to record number lost around the country last year. I guess that even though we are dear friends, we do not always agree on what is most important.

Quite frankly, the deficit scares the hell out of me. Getting the budget under control seems like it should be everyone's top priority. But, I am a simpleton, because I don't quite understand how it is that the country can exist at all in the financial state we are in. I do not even understand how any president can in good conscience even submit an unbalanced budget, let alone one that is over a trillion dollars over. If you cannot even start with the concept of more money coming in than goes out, how are you going to finish with anywhere close to blackl? And, if you have nothing to fall back on, how do you survive tough times?

I have a hard time comprehending 1 trillion dollars at all.... let alone the 11 trillion dollars of debt we currently have. Now, Obama is telling us the budget will be over by more than 1 trillion dollars for the next couple of years. How can this not be alarming? How can this not be every congress person's number 1 priority?

If you laid one dollar bills end to end, you could make a chain that stretches from earth to the moon and back again 200 times before you ran out of dollar bills! One trillion dollars would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills. You can probably do the math for 10 times that number (and then realize that the total is worse than that).

Personally, I have never held a debt greater than I could (if I absolutely had to) pay off if I needed to. A big part of that I owe to my parents who saved and gave me enough money for me to go to college. As it turned out, between scholarships and co-op jobs, I used very little of that money, so ever since I was on my own, I had a pretty large nest-egg. Plus, I've always saved as much as I could. My 401 and IRAs have always been fully funded and I have saved much more than just those vehicles. There have been times, early on after college where my budget was hard to balance and maybe I had to rely on the fact that I had savings for a month or two. But, that is one reason it is so important to save when you have an opportunity.

So, over the years there have been lots of possessions or services that technically I could have obtained that I did without because it was more important to me to be in a position where I could rely on my savings in the event that I ever needed to.

And then, we have the government. According to , the federal government budgeted to spend almost 3 trillion dollars in 2008. The revenue was projected to be about 2.6 trillion. According to the news, the delta is even worse (much much worse), but even using those numbers, we are talking being over budget by a four hundred billion dollars. Mr. Obama tells us we will be something like 1.2 trillion dollars over for the next couple of years.

So, we have a budget that tells us we will be in debt, and then we are not even able to come anywhere close to following the budget. I probably do not need to point out that if I ran my household budget anywhere close to how the government runs its "household" that I would probably be living on the street. My wife would not like that very much. But, for some reason, the federal government is able to plug along without too much concern.

Again, I do not see how this is not the #1 priority for everyone in our federal government. But, stem cell research is important too I guess.

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