Thursday, March 31, 2011

shameless promotion (2.0): March 31, 2011

Editor's note: In the ongoing effort of this blog to fire Will Heathpromote its primary author's rapidly failingcareer as writer, we present this week's column from the St. Clair Times. As always, you are welcome to discuss the matter here or by finding us on Twitter. We thank you in advance for your feigning of interest.
Go wherever you want (just not there)

Picture the following scene: A group of friends wants to go out for a meal, to sit down, enjoy one another’s company and not pay too much.

If your friends are like mine, the conversation will almost certainly go something like this:

“So, what do you have a taste for tonight?”

“Aw … nothing special. Anywhere’s fine.”


“Nah … not really in the mood for Mexican.”


“Had Italian last night.”


“My wife’s allergic to soy.”


“Can’t eat red meat.”

“Are you kidding?”

“None at all. I gave it up for Lent.”

“It’s Sunday.”


“So Lent is the 40 days before Easter excluding Sundays.”

“Oh. Well, I still don’t want a burger.”

And this conversation will go on for another 15-20 minutes, until everyone is frustrated enough that they forgot why they all got together in the first place, and Andy asks if we can all just go back to his place and get something out of the icebox.

Such is the attitude in America when it comes to budgets, particularly in our own government. Ask anyone in America, Alabama and St. Clair County what is the No. 1 problem in government, and they’ll probably say “Government waste” or “too much spending.”

Our local representatives and senators know this, of course, which is why they’re constantly harping on the subject of government waste and overspending.

“You wouldn’t spend more than you take in at home,” they’ll say. “Why is our government allowed to do that?”

The thing is, they’re right. Overspending and government waste are huge, huge problems in this country, probably more serious than we care to imagine, because most of us are more concerned about what Charlie Sheen just said (oh, for a Charlie Sheen rant about government waste).

Go back to those same citizens angry about government waste, though, and ask them what needs to be cut. Where can we spend less?

“Aw … you know, cut out all that wasteful spending.”

“Like what?”

“You know … that pork stuff.”

It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? All of us want to see spending go down; only the most radical among us actually wants to see programs (like Social Security and Medicare) take hits.

So what’s to cut? NASA? Education? The post office?

What about the various grants issued through the federal government all the time? The state of Alabama — whose leadership is never shy about tut-tutting the feds for their wasteful spending — never turns down money from Washington, does it? Does anybody?

The two most politically expedient things in the world, in order, are lowering taxes and increasing spending. Both will be met with huzzahs from the general public … until 10 years later, when they find their government is in greater debt.

And by then, the people who instituted those policies in the first place will be long gone from office, probably sitting around somewhere trying to decide where they’d like to eat dinner.


“Are you kidding? Sushi? Who actually eats sushi?”

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