with all that going on one may wonder whether we are still going to be buried in "We can't afford this" type of nonsense, and the answer is yes.
Recently, in a lengthy post about the NCAA basketball tournament, I noted that New York had cited fiscal difficulties in cutting $192,000,000 from social services while at the exact same time voting to spend $184,000,000 to give Donald Trump a golf course (no, I'm not even kind of making that up or exaggerating in any way) and even in the face of such nonsense as that, voters continue to buy into "we've got to cut spending" so much so that even Obama is touting spending reforms as part of his platform.
Let's be clear: Spending cuts cannot solve any deficit problem. Not in the long term. That is because 1/6 of our money is spent on defense, and 1/7 is spent on Medicare. Among other things. General government makes up less than 1/10 of total government spending, which means if you eliminated every single federal government employee up to and including Obama, you'd reduce our spending by about 10%.
Our tax rate, too, is the lowest it's ever ever ever been. Or at least since the 1920s. Same thing.
So the government takes a smaller percentage of people's money than it ever has, while people earn more than they ever have. There's really no other way to put that. Nowadays, our consumer spending averages about $5,000 per year on nonessentials. Look at all but the poorest people in the U.S. : they have cell phones and color TVs and cars, for the most part. This isn't a rant about how the poor aren't really the poor; this is a rant about how the rich are really really rich, and the middle class (while doing worse all the time) is pretty well off, too.
The latest example of how stupid we are about money -- cutting basic services and paying teachers next to nothing while rolling in discretionary funds -- is this:
What recession? Despite record unemployment, rising health care costs and sinking home values - Americans shelled out more than $10 billion on cosmetic surgery and other procedures last year.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says there were almost 10 million surgical and non-surgical procedures done in the U.S. in 2009, that's down only two percent from the year before.
That was a 2010 article that I heard about recently. In 2009, in the worst economy anyone alive can remember, Americans spent $10,000,000,000 on cosmetic (elective, unnecessary, ineffective) surgery.
That was the a year after, remember, that Beverly Hills Chihuahua took in $29,400,465 on its opening weekend alone.
Two weeks ago, This American Life did an episode called What Kind Of Country, in which two segments focused on the fact that cutting government services drastically reduces not just quality of life, but safety. In one segment, a New Jersey city saw a rise in crime because they elected an incompetent mayor and laid off police officers. The cost of putting a sufficient number of new police officers on the streets? About $300 a year per household. Half the people said they wouldn't pay. Those people have cable TV, which costs about the same as the cops those people wanted but wouldn't pay for. Too bad cable TV can't keep you from having gutters stolen off your house in broad daylight.
Colorado Springs, meanwhile, voted down a tax increase and opted to privately fund streetlights, so that in poorer neighborhoods, people lived in the dark. USA! USA!
People are dumb. And by people I mean you. If you listen to a politician say "we need to cut spending" and nod in agreement, you're selfish and dumb. The next time a politician says "We need to cut spending," instead of silently listening or nodding, why not yell out "What if we just put a tax on unnecessary cosmetic procedures and then paid for cops to protect us using that money?" You'll make me proud, and the country better.