Saturday, July 16, 2005

Down the Toilet 

For some scary reading, check out this article about Comptroller General David Walker,, who runs the General Accounting Office. His job, basically, is as head bean counter for the government, and the things he's saying about the future of the economy and budget for the US are not good.

A short analogy: it's as if a family of four (two school-aged children) with a gross combined income of $150,000 just bought a $5,000,000 house, then decided to pay for it, and the property taxes thereon, with nothing but credit cards. They're planning to send both their kids to college, of course. What? No cash in the bank for necessities? Get more credit cards! Then hang on, because in twelve years, little Timmy will be starting his Freshman year in college and, five years after that, when the student loan bills start to come due, dad's retiring. (Hey, they got married late). Kind of obvious that this family would be in trouble after about the first few months of trying to pay a monthly mortgage that's one-fifth their gross (not net) income. And never mind that by pulling out the plastic, they're converting a fixed, say, 4% mortage rate into a 19%, 20% or more credit card rate. They're totally, utterly screwed, and thanks to the Federal Government, they can't even really escape it by bankruptcy anymore, either.

Back to reality... I doubt that many American families are that stupid. Somewhat stupid, certainly, but not that incredibly stupid.

According to David Walker, our Government is that incredibly stupid. The US is now the biggest debtor nation in the world. We used to be the biggest creditor. We're fighting two wars that have gone nowhere, and all of this is financed after the biggest tax cut in history -- which went, by the way, to the wealthiest Americans. For most of the rest of you, did you enjoy your $300? Hope so, because you've already paid back more than that with hidden increases in other taxes, energy costs and cuts in services.

But, as disturbing as the longterm picture in the article, is this observation: "Nobody knows how the Pentagon is spending $1 billion a week in Iraq. The Department of Defense has 'absolutely atrocious financial management. If it were a business, it would be out of business.'"

One billion dollars a week. And what's it going to? Not much. That's one billion dollars of our money, being flushed down a rat hole in the middle east. Funny, isn't it, how conservatives can bitch and whine about tax dollars being "wasted" on lunch programs for poor children, but absolutely shut up when the same money is being wasted, on a much larger scale, on nothing?

I've done this before for the deficit, but here's what that billion dollars could do for Americans, here, in one week:
  1. Buy $200 worth of groceries for 5,000,000 families. Every week.
  2. Buy laptop computers for one million school children. Every week.
  3. Buy a low-cost ($20K) new car for fifty thousand families. Every week.
  4. Provide a $50,000 college scholarship to twenty thousand students. Every week.
  5. Send eight million families of four out for dinner and a movie. Every week.
  6. Send forty million kids (or more) to see a show at a local theatre, or ten million kids to a Broadway show. Every week.
  7. Buy a typical month's worth of prescription drugs for ten million senior citizens. Every single fucking goddamn week.

And I could go on and on, but you can do the math as well. Instead of any of the above benefits for Americans, what are we getting for our money? Dead soldiers, dead Iraqis, an increase in terrorism world-wide, two wars with no end in sight to either, and our country being spent right down the toilet with no return.

How did we get into this situation? I'll give you a hint. There's a W in it, and he's a liar.

Good post, it's crazy to see how much our government is willing to spend on wars and military but how little it will spend on improving America domestically by improving education, health care, etc.

Giving a $50k college scholarship to 20k students per week would give a very large portion of our student-age population a complete full-ride for almost any university in the country.
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