A Child’s Lesson in Economics
An eight year old boy at the Delaware shore was shopping with his family in the boardwalk’s version of a 5 &10 store. The family was getting the necessities to survive a week at the beach.
As the basket was loaded with the Coppertone cream and floppy hats, the eight year old wandered through the aisles of rubber alligators, bouncing balls, water globes and beach t-shirts. Then he saw it! It was the best looking kite he had ever seen. He wanted it so badly. He ran to his father and tugged on his loose fitting beach shirt. “Dad, Dad I just saw the neatest kite! Can I get it?”
The father distracted by the other children and attempting to purchase the other items that were already collected up in the basket turned to his son and in a calm voice told him that he couldn’t purchase the kite at this time. He explained that the family hadn’t budgeted for that type of purchase and he didn’t have the cash available at this time. He said that now wasn’t the appropriate time to purchase a kite no matter how “neat” the kite was. He went on: “If I purchase this kite for you, I won’t be able to take the family to Putt-Putt later this week.”
The son hanging his head as he stepped away from the counter thought about what his father said. Then without hesitation – as if jolted – snapped to attention, ran over to his father at the counter and said: “Dad, I know! You can use your charge card – that way you won’t have to pay for it!”
This story – or something vaguely similar to it – happened over 30 years ago between my father and me.
I soon was to learn that even though you didn’t have to fork over your cash at the counter to purchase something, a charge or credit card was simply a promise to pay cash the following month, and you should be in a position to fulfill that promise when asked.
A similar lesson obviously was either never passed on by the parents of the president, and House of Representative members and senators or simply never learned.
Our country has nearly always been in a position of carrying a large debt load, but we haven’t always run annual deficits. The fact that this is possible simply means that Congress is unwilling to make the budgetary cuts that the states and counties and municipalities have been making in the past few years.
At the federal level the weak Republican opposition has done little to stem the tide of increased spending; in fact, they’ve received a political smack down from the president and other Democrat leaders.
They were able to portray the Republicans as uncaring and totally opposed to any extension of unemployment benefits, even though the Republicans wanted to extend those same benefits!
The Republican leadership had requested that any extension of unemployment benefits be paid for by reductions in the other areas of the budget. Their attempt at common sense and fiscal responsibility failed. They were unable to affect the type of change they wanted.
Even worse, this has done nothing to address if any further extensions will be added when these benefits expire. When will these benefits finally be capped? In this political climate who’s to say when a “final” cap will be put on unemployment benefits?
Previous administrations have continued to “kick the can down the road” when it comes to deficit spending and growing the national debt, but this administration has put maximum stress on the U.S. National Debt Clock. (http://www.usdebtclock.org/index.html) Our future has been mortgaged for the pet projects of Congress and the president. There is absolutely no concern for how future generations will pay the bill.
If there is not a substantive change in the mindset of the newly elected officials heading to Washington early next year, if there is no change at how they look at deficit spending and future debt obligations, then the United States is doomed to go the way of Greece.
For those “eight year olds” in Congress who think that the American taxpayer can continue to just put their wish list on the taxpayer’s credit card, I’d like to introduce you to my father.