So there we were, early one morning at Myrtle Beach discussing the finer points of budgeting and finance while critiquing bikinis. I was thinking about starting a little part-time business to be able to buy, and afford, some of the nicer things in life, to be a participant in this system we call capitalism. Yes, I wanted to become one of those capitalist pigs. During the course of the discussion my, now former, father-in-law made the statement "Never tie up your own money. Always use someone else's money so you don't put yours at risk.
Other people's money, OPM...
How many of us, when we discover that we can borrow money to buy a house, car, or other large item that was once paid for with cash, have gotten a little over-extended and then had to work our way out of the hole we'd dug for ourselves? It takes a lot of work, but first we must stand back and admit we made a mistake don't we. We have to admit to ourselves that maybe we should have bought an Impala or Focus instead of that Beemer or Hummer, a two bedroom house instead of one with 14, or that maybe, just maybe, if we were going to college we should have majored in something we could use to build an income producing career instead of basket weaving, dance, or art. To be sure, those fun things may be fun, what ever makes one's socks go up and down, but can we actually earn a living and support ourselves with them? Some do. Most do not.
It's that OPM deal isn't it. As long as we can borrow money to do what we want, to buy what we want, everything's copacetic. But there eventually comes a day when we must pay the piper.
How many times do we see large corporations, Enron would be a good example but they don't need to be enormous flops like it either, take wild and irresponsible risks because those making the decision don't have a personal stake in the outcome. Win or lose, management have their golden parachutes and, quite frankly, to use a phrase currently in vogue, they have no skin in the game. Everything they do is financed with OPM and there's little concern about consequences for losing, only the opportunity for even greater rewards if they prevail. If there's evidence of fraud or other illegal behavior there will be legal consequences, but plain old neglect or dereliction of duty generally will not.
Ah, and then we have those public/private partnerships, don't we. That's where the public, Joe and Jane Schmuckatelli, all of us peons who merely pick up the tab, we who don't understand infrastructure or government economies of scale, take the risk and a private company or individual(s) takes all the profits. The willing accomplices in these, our elected officials and their appointed functionaries, pledge tax dollars on the pretext it will bring beaucoups of jobs. Do they? Really? To local folks? Or do the local folks get the low paying jobs while the high paying jobs, and profits, go to carpetbaggers from out of town? TIF anyone? Wacker or Hemlock Semiconductor? VW? All of those jobs cost the taxpayer, with returns yet to be realized. Sure, we're told that every tax dollar "invested" will bring multiples in return... with no proof. VW keeps sucking up tax money and nobody can put an absolute dollar figure on it's positive economic impact on southeast Tennessee. Wacker announced in October of 2012 it's delaying completion of its Charleston, TN, plant by 18 months. In January of 2013 Hemlock in Clarksville, TN, announced it will be laying off 300 workers. If it was legal here in Tennessee, I'd bet good money that Socrates would have something to tell us about hemlock. And ethanol producers just keep sucking up those TaxBucks to convert food to fuel, an inefficient fuel when true economics are applied to its manufacturing costs. One might also wonder how the Bredesen/Kisber/Regan solar power venture, financed with State jingwa, all of whom are former State executives, is faring in this economy. We don't hear much about it.
Like Birkie, my budette the babe not Berkie the dude from Berkley, is so fond of saying... these are nothing more than wealthy white people with a sense of entitlement. How did they gain this sense of entitlement? We've allowed elected officials to entitle them.
But it's all OPM, so it really doesn't matter does it.
Then we have government, government that truly produces nothing... at least when we exclude hot air. The Postal Service is actually a separate entity even though it's chartered by the feds and it's governing body selected by them too. If they had real management instead of political cronies, real managers who were allowed to sink or swim on their own merits, they might even be able to earn a profit... or at least break even. TVA, too, is a separate entity. It certainly was built with government money, but it's required to stand on its own, now even the research center down in Mussel Shoals.
535 people in Washington, D.C., were elected to lead, to govern. What are they doing? Political posturing? Playing silly games with the futures of our children and grandchildren? Playing a game of chicken with the survival of our nation and society, this greatest nation to ever grace the face of Planet Terra, the most independent and productive society in the history of mankind? All they've done was put this bird on autopilot entering into a hurricane, and now we're in the middle of it they want to point fingers instead of rolling up sleeves and doing what's right. They won't even pass a budget, and have allowed continued out of control spending instead of shutting that baby down. Then they'll tell us they have plenty of brass when they're out on the campaign trail, won't they.
But once they're elected they have an unlimited source of OPM, so what's to worry about?
Earl Nightingale is famous for stating "People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. It’s that simple. Failures believe that their lives are shaped by circumstances... by things that happen to them ... by exterior forces.”
Goals, succeeding... to this I would add a plan. Goals with no plan to achieve them are just dreams with no hope of accomplishment. Let's take that down to a local, more visible and individually controllable level.
Sen. Andy Berke will buy us ice cream. He'll spend tax dollars on schools that are now the responsibility of Hamilton County, and institute a local version of Race to the Top... a State program now shown to be a failure. He'll develop a comprehensive crime prevention plan. Why hasn't he already done that? He'll implement this program and that program, he'll support the arts, he'll bring in this and that consultant to tell us how to tell time with our own watches, all of which cost money... other people's money, OPM.
I'd like to have a replica of Athena in my living room, one with arms, but there are two problems; 1) that face built for radio deal, and 2) The Gang probably would pitch hissy fits if I brought an interloper into their home, and 3) it would probably take a lot of money to keep her up. So it would appear Sen. Berke and I have a similar problem... where's the money going to come from? I've seen him count, so we have a similar problem there too.
In contrast we have a down home boy... a real Homie who likes to fish, wears plaid shirts, and drives a motorcycle. He comes to the table with a list of things he would change, cut waste, specific items and programs he would investigate to find out where the problems are and where the cost over runs lie. He has a plan and, more importantly, he has budget dollars he would cut, with increases for cops and fire fighters, while tending to necessities before looking to spend on frufruishness. After all, what is the function of government? And if there's one who's more concerned about eliminating waste first, before spending more of that OPM, who's the better candidate?
Other people's money... confiscated with the power of a government gun... to be spent frivolously, and with impunity.
Royce Burrage, Jr.