Spending

I have taken quite a long break from blogging. The election cycle was exhausting and everybody had an opinion about everything. It didn’t seem like one more voice could add much of anything to the conversation. I am not sure this post will serve to announce “I am back”, but let’s just say I am back for today. I have been paying some attention to all the fiscal cliff shenanigans. Sometimes I think this whole thing is an invention of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. What else would they possibly be yakking about 24 hours a day if not for the cliff? I tend to fall on the side of those who believe a deal will get done. In fact, of course a deal will get done. It’s only a matter of when and what the deal looks like. I don’t hold out much hope for significant reform ever coming out of this Congress, but, that said, they will all make a deal and then scream about how the other side refused to be reasonable. We’ve seen this movie before and we will see it again.

I was thinking, though, on my early morning drive down the Connector here in Atlanta that even for a left leaning centrist like myself, that there are tons of things I would cut if I were king. I don’t pretend this is an exhaustive list not even a brilliant one. Let’s call it Schall’s list of things he could do without.

–I plan on working past 62 or 65 or whenever Social Security kicks in so I am good with raising the retirement age. We all live way too long these days so why not have a few more of those years be productive ones.

–Speaking of living too long, having just been through both parents’ passing on to another world and coming to understand how much money is spent on the last few months of our collective lives, I am just fine with capping medical expenses tied to one’s age. I don’t actually have any real system in mind for this, but I kind of like the simplicity of the idea. At age 85, if it takes more than $250,000 to get you to 86, you are out of luck. At age 90, maybe that number gets reduced to $100,000 in order to make it to 91. Or how about some new version of Let’s Make a Deal? You can either have $100,000 towards medical care or what’s behind curtain two: an all expense paid trip to Greece for the rest of your life or six months, whichever comes first. I’d be on the plane in a heartbeat.

–A friend sent me this statistic this morning. It costs over $90,000 a year to incarcerate a juvenile and less than $12,000 to educate him well.

–Sticking to Law and Order, just how much has this War on Drugs cost and where has it gotten us? How about if we all move to Colorado?

–We are still rounding up, detaining and deporting thousands of undocumented workers a year at an exorbitant cost. How’s that working?

–I recently obtained a “Get through airport security without taking your shoes off” pass. TSA has become a massive bureaucracy. If I can get one of these passes having travelled to places like Cuba, China, and the Middle East, what about the rest of us?

–The Defense Budget? Don’t even get me started. If we didn’t have such a bloated military, we would have been a whole lot less likely to enter into two tragic wars that killed and maimed too many people to even imagine (and cost us an arm and a leg in money as well).

–Does anyone know how much money we spend tracking “sex offenders” of all type for their lifetimes and what good any of that does us?

I am just getting started. Want to add to the list?

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12 Responses to Spending

  1. I am so glad you’re thinking of working past 65 honey — that way I can continue to work for nothing for years to come!! ( : I totally agree that we need to cut spending, far & wide, and wouldn’t it be awesome if the Democrats could bring a whole lot of creativity and some sharp knives to the table instead of falling on their swords trying to protect crap pork deals??? I personally love the idea of bringing back the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and putting unemployed people to work doing the infrastructure jobs that so desperately need doing – that’s more spending, but I think it would create such a ripple effect of productivity.

  2. Bill Shropshire says:

    I am with you on all your cuts and will add ending federal flood insurance subsidies.

  3. Jody Davis says:

    As a disgruntled Floridian, and life long Republican who despises the lunacy that’s been elected in this state here are a few of my suggestions. Means testing for Social Security and Medicare would be a great step towards maintaining a system that was intended to be a safety-net not an entitlement. Privatizing the TSA is an event who’s time has come, while I supported it initially as a governmental agency, efficiencies are now needed. A common sense approach to gun control, it can’t be a third-rail issue. Being a retired military officer I know what assault weapons are used for and I can’t see taking them on any hunting trip. Commitment towards educating our youth about the rest of the world. International awareness isn’t nice to have, it’s a requirement. As a 20 year Rotarian who is dedicated to Youth Exchange how can we accept the imbalance of 350,000 international students coming to our shores, and only 32,000 of our kids going abroad under Secondary School and Post-Secondary exchanges and study abroad programs. Finally, a national obligation to serve not necessarily in the military but two years committed towards the betterment of our country. Establish an Academy of Public Service and remind citizens that a birth right requires ownership.

  4. Carl Bergman says:

    There are two problem with raising Social Security’s starting age. Social Security has many incentives to keep people from collecting. Between 62 and 66 you get a reduced benefit and if you are working, your SS payment goes down one dollar for every three you earn. Yet, most persons apply at 62. The reason is simple. They need the money. They are workers who had little disposable income to contribute to pension plans, little or no savings and who had little in the way of job prospects.

    The other reason is that the age is going up anyway. Since the 80s the age for receiving the maximum payment, now at 66, continues to rise, albeit slowly. It will be 67 in 2017. This is based on the concept that longevity is rising. However, its longevity at birth that’s going up. Longevity increases for those over 60 are rising much less. The increase in longevity is not distributed evenly. While collar workers tend to live longer. Blue collar less so.s

    Finally, Social Security is just not in dire straights. It’s good for the next decade without changes. If there is any needed change, I’d make payroll tax more progressive. Currently, it caps at about $107,000 of income. Raising the cap and exempting the first $500 or $1,000 per person per year would help greatly.

  5. Bill Aitken '64 says:

    Glad to have you back again, Larry. So that’s what I am, a “left leaning centrist? Well, not in everything probably. I used to “be” a Republican, but today’s Republican party certainly doesn’t seem like the one of my earlier years. At times I find myself thinking that going off that cliff might be a good solution to all of this nonsense–at least it would reign in defense spending (Eisenhower’s military-defense complex–remember him? why didn’t we listen?!). But of course the other results would hurt too many people. Merrill-Lynch picked the winner of this election months ago, and I believe they also believe it’s not a matter of if, but rather, like you, how and what will the result look like. I don’t hold out much hope for anything substantially different, though..
    I’m still working at nearly 71 (although not for pay, just professional “payback” and because I like what I do–echos of Betty?) My wife has been working part-time for five years too (68), because she likes doing what she does. So I guess increasing the Medicare age makes some sense (but I have to remember that not everyone is as fortunate as us and ABLE to do so).
    Why don’t we bring back some of the programs that were used the last time we were in a similar pickle (FRD)? That generated jobs, didn’t it? And look what it produced for us all (National Parks, infrastructure, etc.).
    As I reflect on the intractable posturing nonsense of the last year, and even past years, I think it would be a good thing for us to remember something Jefferson said in his first inaugural address: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle.” Except of course for the 1%. To paraphrase him, ‘we are all Republicans (original meaning), Democrats (he used “Federalists”), and Independents’.

    • petrelwords says:

      Thanks for staying with me Bill! Have you read about the most recent TJ bio?

      • Bill Aitken '64 says:

        I just bought it for Carole to give me for Christmas, so haven’t read it yet. If you’re referring to Meachem’s book, I’ve heard that it is not as flattering as previous ones, but Jefferson was a complicated, unusual man. Just look at how many books have been written about him, biography and otherwise. I’ve gotten into TJ’s ‘Notes on Virginia”, one of his first. Waiting in the (my) wings is “Jefferson’s Bible”, “Jefferson and Science”, “Mr. Jefferson’s Women”, some of his writings (letters) collected into “Letters from the Head and Heart”, “Jefferson and Monroe”, and “Madison and Jefferson”. And that, as you probably know, barely scratches the surface.
        Have you ever heard TJ impersonator Clay Jenkinson on “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” on PBS (on here locally at 1 PM every Tue., not sure WABE carries it)? It’s really worth while. The TJ impersonator at nearby Williamsburg looks and sounds a lot more like the real TJ but Clay is very good (and available weekly, both in character and speaking out of character analysis.

  6. petrelwords says:

    I lean hard, Bill. Love the Jefferson quote, although the most recent bio of TJ is quite unflattering.

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