Like a Dutch Uncle

Many years ago a couple asked me to play Dutch Uncle to them. To advise them. They had gone bankrupt twice. They were headed toward another bankruptcy. (The bankruptcy judge had forbidden them to use credit cards. They got new ones using his brotherís name. Donít try this at home.)

We went over their spending habits. I identified a dozen places where they could spend considerably less. With each one, they rejected my suggestion. They said they absolutely had to have all four vehicles. They absolutely could not do without their annual vacation. She absolutely had to have her hair done once a week. They absolutely had to have a home as large as theirs. Etcetera, etcetera.

They expected they would make more money gradually. I pointed out that they had made more money at various stages in the past. And that each time they had spent it. And then some. Ahh, but this time would be different. Or so they assured me.

They went bankrupt a third time.

This, of course, is Washington. Has been Washington. Perhaps it will continue to be Washington. Until we are bankrupt. Technically we are, anyway.

A Dutch Uncle would suggest we cut this program. We would insist we could not cut that program. Absolutely not. Too many people depend upon it.

Well, then, why not cut this program? Gosh no, we would tell him. We could not possibly cut that program. Absolutely not.

We will increase our revenues, we would tell him. We will tax the rich. We will levy new taxes. We will close loopholes. Reduce waste and fraud.

Yes, the Dutch Uncle would say. You have promised before to do those things. And you have done some of them Ė such as the taxing. And yet your record is clear. Whenever you have managed to increase your revenue, you have spent it. And then some.

The couple I advised did finally cut their spending. They lost everything Ė his business, their home, their vehicles. They ended up nearly destitute in a tiny welfare apartment, scraping by on their Social Security. That was the way they cut spending.

Pick your favorite politician. If he does not tell you government spends way too much, he lies. If I had not told the couple they spent too much I would have lied.

I know, I know. We could increase our revenues. But, like the couple, we have done that again and again. And like the couple, we have always spent far more than the new money that came in. And whether we could truly increase our revenues is very much open to question. We know that more taxes will slow an economy. A slower economy will send less to Washington.

You can pretend that higher taxes will solve our problems. Please donít shoot the messenger who tells you that is a fairy tale. You can dodge the issue of spending. You can pin the tail on any number of villains.

The simple truth is that our government spends too much. Way too much.

The problem is not that we donít have Dutch Uncles. We do. Like that couple, our problem is that we refuse to listen to them. Or heed them.††††††††††

From Tom ... as in Morgan.††††††††††††††††††

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