I’m trying to keep this blog moving here in the New Year, and I want to make that happen by presenting Stallionic Axiom #2. The problem is that Stallionic Axiom #2, along with all subsequent Stallionic Axioms, are boring as all git out. So allow me to try to liven up the proceedings.
Here is Stallionic Axiom #2, as originally intended:
Neither party has any interest in balancing the federal budget.
Here it is in sexed-up, 2011 language:
Both parties blow milkshake squirts out of their rear ends when it comes to handling your cash.
Most of what people say about the budget is crap, anyway. You hear all the TERRIFYING stories from Glenn Beck and the like, panicking about the size of the budget in astronomical numbers of dollars.
“OOOHHH! TRILLIONS! You stack a TRILLION dollars in a pile and you can circle the moon and back!”
And if my aunt had testicles, she might be my uncle. Big rip. See, the United States produces about 14 to 15 trillion bucks in gross domestic product every year. That’s 14 trips to the moon and back, with some left over to stick into some sexy asteroid’s belt. It’s impressive, but I don’t see anybody stacking oodles of pictures of George Washington up to the jet stream.
It’s a completely irrelevant, alarmist illustration.
A trillion dollars of debt is a lot of money, but if you make 14 trillion a year, it ain’t that big a deal. $50,000 isn’t that much money in the grand scheme of things, but if you have $50,000 in credit card debt and you only make 40 grand per annum, you’re deeply screwed.
Our debt is becoming a problem, though, because we’re about to have as much debt as we make every year. This won’t be the first time, however – after World War II, we had much, much smaller debt in terms of DOLLARS – not enough to circle the moon – but we owed about 150% of what our country made every year. Japan is in deep kimchi – to mix Asian metaphors – because their debt is approaching twice their GDP.
Of course, my personal debt, all of which is tied up in a 15-year mortgage, is just a little more than twice my annual income, and I consider myself fortunate. I can manage the debt quite easily, considering I collect a paycheck, which is, admittedly, a bit of a struggle at the moment.
So most of the alarmist crap you’re hearing about the debt is, as advertised, alarmist crap. But that doesn’t mean heaping on huge piles of debt is a good idea.
But here’s the thing, couched in Stallionic Axiom #2A:
You cannot mathematically balance the budget without handling entitlement spending.
What’s entitlement spending? It’s Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – money that, contractually, you’re entitled to under certain conditions. That money goes out the door regardless of what Congressman or Senator Whatzinhoojit decide to spend. It’s driven by demographics, not democracy.
And the demographics are downright ugly.
This past year, entitlement spending ate up virtually 100% of all the money the government collected in tax revenue. So everything either party is talking about cutting was borrowed money to begin with.
Here are the plans, in a nutshell.
Democrats: LA LA LA LA LA. I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Everything’s fine. Look! I’m an ostrich! There’s the sand! But don’t even THINK about touching Social Security and Medicare, or we’ll savage you like we savaged Newt in ’94 or Bush Jr. ten years after that. If you have to cut, cut defense, but don’t cut it much, because our Demo prez has just increased our commitment in Afghanistan.
Besides, just jack up taxes and that will fix it.
It’s crappy, right? None of that makes any sense, especially the jacking up of taxes, which slows the economic activity necessary to fund these programs. (Remember Stallionic Axiom #1, folks. Higher taxes doesn’t necessarily mean more money for Uncle Sam.)
So, yes, the Dem’s solution is just a big pile of grizzled carp kidneys. So let’s look at the Republican solution.
Republicans: LA LA LA LA LA. I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Everything’s fine. Look! I’m an ostrich! There’s the sand! I pretended to hear you a few times, but it cost us too much politically, so we’re shutting up now. And don’t touch defense, and slash taxes s’more.
Besides, we’re going to get all the savings we need by eliminating EARMARKS, which constitute less than one half of one percent of the budget. But even that money won’t be saved, because all eliminating earmarks does is give the authority of how to spend to Obama rather than to Congress. So we’ll just shut up and let him spend how he pleases.
See? The GOP is just as crappy, if not more so! How do you squeeze out massive savings by playing smoke and mirrors with less than one percent of your total expenditures?
Of course, there’s also the Tea Party Solution.
Tea Partiers: Where does it say the words “Social Security” in Article One, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution? Nowhere, that’s where! So end it tomorrow! Throw Grandma to the wolves!
Soylent Green is people!
Thankfully, this kind of stupidity only carried the day here in my home state of Utah with the election of Mike Lee. But even he’s backing off as he realizes just how asinine that is.
So what’s the answer?
Well, with Social Security, the solution is relatively simple. Due to a structural flaw in how benefits are calculated, your children and grandchildren are slated to have more purchasing power with their benefits than current retirees have. If we simply adjust benefits for inflation alone, Social Security becomes sustainable indefinitely, with only minor tweaking around the edges.
Why haven’t we done this? Well, because Democrats have found it’s more useful to pound Republicans than solve the problem, and Republicans are more interested in private accounts than long-term solvency.
Don’t get me wrong – private accounts aren’t necessarily a bad idea, but they don’t solve the problem, and focusing on them is like wetting yourself in a rainstorm – it may make you feel nice and warm, but nobody else notices.
Solving the Medicare problem, which is actually much more pressing given that Medicare will be insolvent in less than a decade, is a lot tricker, and it requires adherence to the as-yet-unrevealed Stallionic Axiom #3, which will probably be scatologically enhanced for your enjoyment.