Governments, Churches and the Family Budget

Now there’s a Headline that has the potential to tick off almost everyone.  It’s a gift I have.

Five years ago this month, my remarkably below average selling book, “IOU NO MORE” hit the market.  I had high hopes for it, but some other simultaneous life changes prohibited me doing the aggressive marketing that success required.  No big deal really.  The material helped a lot of people and the principles are still true.  Some of the content is dated now, but if you want a copy you can still get it from Amazon (There’s a Kindle version).

Last year, I updated the book and added a couple new thoughts, but decided not to publish it.  I’m still considering making it available in an e book format. Time will tell.  At any rate, Happy Birthday, “IOU NO MORE”.

The book’s principles would be very useful for Governments and Churches, too.

I read with dismay, the debates between left and right over how to get the economy going.  Both sides may be right and both are definitely wrong.  They are more interested in sound bites and pandering to their respective bases than actually addressing the national debt and getting the economy rolling again.  They are interested in power and job security and very few have the courage to stand up and tell the whole, ugly truth.  Senator Paul Ryan has tried, but neither side, nor the American public is interested.  We can’t handle the truth.

I could fix the budget.  Millions would hate me, at least for a while, but I could do it.

Budgeting is simple.  It’s not easy, but it’s simple.  When you have serious, crippling debt, there is one definite problem and one possible one.  The definite problem is a spending issue.  You are spending more than you earn.  That’s automatic, beyond dispute.  It is also possible that you have an income problem. You may actually need to earn more money.

In politics, the left is more willing to face the second factor, while ignoring, even berating the first.  For the left, it’s always an income issue.  We need more money, let’s raise taxes, especially on the rich.

That sounds good on the surface, it’s certainly populist, but it’s naieve and maybe even dangerous.

The right side of the aisle says we should cut taxes because tax cuts spark the economy. They talk about spending cuts with fiery zeal, but never do it, because too many members of their base would baulk at their favorite entitlements being affected.  So, round and round we go, never progressing, always spinning and spiraling, ever downward.

The very first step to fixing a debt crisis is to STOP BORROWING!  You’ve got enough of a problem with what’s already been borrowed.  Stop trying to dig your way out of a hole. Is anyone in Washington listening?  Anyone in America?  STOP!

To fix a budget, whether personal, organizational or national, the next step is a debt assessment.  We need to find out where we are.  How much is coming in?  Where is it coming from?  How much is going out?  Where is it going?  To whom do we owe and how much do we owe each creditor? What are the minimum payments.

Now we do a budget.  Every category has a name and every dollar is assigned.  This is where we start to cut.  We prioritize where our money goes.  In a family budget, God comes first.  He gets the first ten percent, then comes Food.  In my U.S. budget, National Defense would rank very high.

As individuals, if we don’t eat, we become vulnerable to illness.  As a nation, without a strong defense, our freedom and very existence is at risk.  When I’m in debt, I cut the fat, I might not eat out as much, I rip the junk food out of the budget and the stupid squandering, but you gotta eat.  Our national defense is more important than entitlement programs.  But I digress.

I would go through the budget item by item in a zero based, rather than a line item budget.  Every category has to defend it’s right to existence, every time the budget it done.  Some categories must be eliminated, some must be slashed. Some must be reformed.  For example, if I can’t keep the lights on, I can’t afford to go to the movies.  Back when I was in debt, I did just the opposite.  I had plenty of fun, but I repeatedly had my electricity cut off. Twice I had cars repossessed, but I went to the movies, concerts and night clubs without thinking twice.

In America, there are multiple categories of spending that should be eliminated.  That’s a vote loser. Other categories need slashed to the bone. It’s uncomfortable, it’s unpopular, but it’s necessary for survival.

After every category is properly designated, prioritized and the necessary adjustments (cuts) are made, if there is still more going out than coming in, then additional income is required.  In our case, my wife went back to work.  Sometimes a second job is required.  Other times all that’s needed is a good yard sale or some postings on Ebay.

From a national perspective, at this point, we may need to raise taxes for a while.  We have to be honest.  It’s not fun working two jobs to pay bills, but we got ourselves into debt, so getting out contains some discomfort. It won’t be fun paying more taxes, but it may be necessary. You’d better prove to me that it’s necessary by cutting spending first.  Don’t try and snow me with mythical promised cuts that never transpire. Show me the cuts, then I’ll show you the money.

The two primary impediments to a successful family budget are: 1. unwillingness to change behavior and 2. a family not being on the same page.  On a national level they are 1. Republicans and Democrats not being on the same page and 2. Americans not willing to change behavior. Most of us on the right are delighted with spending cuts, unless it touches our entitlements.  Don’t touch Medicare or Social Security.  Don’t go near Defense, etc.

The left is fine with taxing the ‘rich’, but don’t ever tax the middle or lower classes.  Those rich people have to pay their fair share, but it’s not fair for my base to pay any share at all.  How ridiculous.

We need leaders who are willing to be one term officials.  We need men and women who are prepared to do the hard stuff and fix the economy, knowing it will be unpopular and that they may likely be voted out in a landslide at the end of their terms.  We want to be Mayberry with Andy Taylor as Sherrif, but we might actually be Tombstone and need Wyatt Earp.

Oh, remember that those tax increases were temporary.  When my wife and I got out of debt and were able to live on a single income, she quit her job to become a full time farmer.  She was probably better off employed….

Any tax increases should follow spending cuts and have a deadline built in.

I’ve blethered on way too long, but bear with me for another moment or forty.

I would implement a consumption, rather than an income tax (read “Fair Tax”)

I would eliminate junkets.

I would open offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR.

I would immediately open the Keystone Pipeline Project.

I would make a deal with the auto makers that the first auto maker who could create a legitimate 50 mpg gallon (city) vehicle, would get all Govt. contracts for ten years.

I would then make similar deals with alternative, renewable energy companies.

I would implement Tort reform and term limits

I would reform Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Food Stamp programs and other Welfare.

I would implement a work for benefit plan into Welfare benefits.

I would abolish the USDA

I would privitize the TSA

I would close the borders tighter than drum for illegal immigrants and build a nice new, wide, welcoming door for legal immigrants

I would legalize drugs, tax the fire out of them and enforce DUI and similar laws with a zero tolerance policy

Until the Fair Tax could be implemented, I would lower the tax rate and eliminate tax deductions (flat tax).

These are just some of the reasons no one would vote for me.

I could go on, but now I’m starting to preach.

Speaking of preaching, I haven’t even started on Churches an money yet.  Wait till next post!

 

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