Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just Live Within Your Means

I couldn't sleep last night, for a number of reasons. First there were the two hours of back and forth of getting babywhumpus to sleep in his crib, then feeding the cats at midnight, getting up because I could not remember if I had locked the car, getting up because I thought I heard someone outside, getting up because the alarm on the sound machine in the baby's room started going off, and then daddywhumpus coming home from amateur night gigs, but there was also the mind-racing-for-no-particular-reason element.

It's all this talk about how government, like people, should "live within its means," and if government can't afford it, it shouldn't do it, just like people should do. It bugs me. It really bugs me. I think that the macro economics of the federal government are a bit different from the economics of the "kitchen table" that our governor, in particular, likes to bark about.

If I choose not to do something or buy something because I can't afford it, our household can adjust and that one thing won't affect the bottom line of The Economy. When numerous households can't afford it, this affects the bottom line. When the government cuts programs or even contracts to companies which, in turn, provide jobs, it affects both The Economy and individual households. It's not like the need goes away when the program is canceled. And, if the program is canceled and people lost their job because the government didn't grant the contract, that's a double hit. Need gets shifted, but it rarely disappears. That means someone still has to pay, somehow. It will come back to get us in our state, our county, our school district, our municipality, or it will be spread out in another fashion when corporations try to profit or nonprofits have to meet their bottom line.

Am I loving deficit spending? Not so much. But I do understand that there are greater forces at work, and the mess that we are in requires a large response. The institution in the best position to enact a large response is the federal government. I don't agree that this situation could be addressed by cutting taxes and going even more supply-side on the recession that supply-side had a part in creating.

Mostly, I don't know what I am talking about because I don't remember a lot from my Economics class in high school, nor do I fully understand the succession of decisions actions that led to the crisis. And I think that many people grousing about "living within your means" don't know much either.

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