How Much for the Red One?

Budgets are no fun. I hate having to figure out the budget and making my meager salary fit within one. I hate looking at the accounts and wishing the balances were high enough to do the things we’d like to do and knowing they are not and probably won’t be for some time. But, because I learn from my mistakes, I now that one cannot buy expensive things without having the means to pay for them. This lesson probably came later in my life than it should have, thus ensuring I missed out on a lot of opportunities.

But with all the pretty things out there to spend money on—the toys, the restaurants, the cars, the lifestyle—temptations abound to entice one to break the budget; to splurge and spend. It takes great willpower to resist those temptations, and I will admit, I am not as stoic in the face of these temptations as I wish I was. I have spent money on non-necessities. Thankfully, I can talk myself out of spending money on the more frivolous items. More to the point, I never spend more than I make. Another consideration is who wants it. Some things I see in a store leave my wife less than impressed. For many things she wants to get, I am less than excited. We made a rule early in our relationship that any expensive purchase must be agreed upon before the money is spent.

There are a lot of things a government can buy too; a lot of programs that sound really good. Things that will make life better. Programs to make life easier for some. Programs to give comfort to those in need. But those programs are expensive. They cost money. More money than the government’s income. Way too expensive to be purchased without a consensus of the people.

So, if I make a budget that my family has to live within, why does the government make a budget that they know they cannot live within? A comedian put it very succinctly: If I test drive a Lamborghini, and I want the car, but I do not have the money for it, I don’t buy it. If the government wants a Lamborghini and does not have the money for it, they say “I’ll take the red one.”

With all the money that went to the stimulus plan (and that was as big a boondoggle as mankind has ever seen) the Obama administration is still looking at ways to spend even more money that they do not have. The proposed health reform plans come with a price tag that no one can afford. It is that Lamborghini on the showroom floor. But rather than do as most people do—sigh and wish and walk away—the democrats are filling out the credit application.

There are simple lessons to be learned from budgeting. If I overextend my credit, the credit company will deny my purchase. They will cut me off. I will no longer be able to spend. If I don’t make my payments, I can expect a creditor to call me, and you can bet he won’t be asking about how my family is doing. Someone somewhere needs to cut Obama off. Some creditor needs to give the Libercrats a wakeup call. It would be poetic justice if some creditor were to call the president at dinner time to tell him that the country is behind on their payments and ask when the payment could be expected.

They need to learn that money is a finite resource. Just because a program sounds like a fine idea does not mean it can be done. Just because a program sounds good doesn’t mean it has to be implemented. Washington, do what most responsible people do. Look at the price tag and judge whether or not we can afford it. I’ll bet we can’t, and more to the point, we don’t want it.

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