Friday, January 13, 2012

Nickel and Diming

   As we approach the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, perhaps it's time to think about replacing "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" with a modern equivalent, but nevertheless it came to mind when I read about the President's plan to save $3 billion over 10 years by combining six government agencies.  According to the Administration's own budget, total federal expenditures in 2012 will total $3.7 trillion.  In one year.  Even if expenditures were frozen for 10 years (which is about as likely as another old cliche about somewhere freezing over,) the total for the decade would be $37 trillion.    Savings of $3 billion on $37 trillion is the equivalent of a family earning $50,000 saving - are you ready for this? - $4.05.  Yes, that's four dollars and five cents.  I double checked.  President Obama has essentially proposed skipping a Starbucks latte once a year.
   To add insult to injury, the savings will in part be achieved by jobs cuts, but not immediately: "[T]he administration would [cut jobs] through attrition; that is, as people routinely leave their jobs over time."  In other words, unnecessary duplicative jobs will only be eliminated as people voluntarily leave them.  What kind of incentive is there to leave a job in which the workload is being shared by one or more other individuals who are apparently superfluous, particularly since public sector jobs routinely pay much better than comparable private sector positions?
   Some are characterizing this proposal by the President as a "power grab."  Nonsense.  It's more like the bully who takes your lunch money flipping a nickel back to you as he walks away.  And you're supposed to be grateful.

UPDATE:  A couple of other ways to look at this:

  • $3 billion over 10 years is $300 million.  Since the US population is 307,000,000, it comes to $1 per person per year.  The national debt is currently $53,000 per person.
  • Again, $3 billion over 10 years is $300 million/year.  The government currently spends $300 million every 42 minutes.
UPDATE:  I have now posted Part II of this series.  Not included is the President's blockbuster claim:  brand new "savings of $10 billion over 10 years"!  If you are keeping track, we're now skipping four lattes a year.


  1. So what's the effect of proposing a cut of 1 Trillion per year for three years and moving toward a balanced budget? Can you run that through your math skills, please?

    1. Now we're talking $13,500 for that family earning $50,000. At this point, the analogy breaks down since the family is EARNING the $50,000, not confiscating or printing it.

  2. The first candidate who will articulAte this absurdity gets my vote.

    1. Not so sure that's the best voting policy, but it certainly puts the emphasis on the most pressing issue in the election: Staving off the Economic Collapse of the Nation.