The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Borrowing from Xing to pay Deng

I am a simple man. I was raised by a not so simple mother who was, in my family, in charge of the savings and checking accounts and paying the bills. My father had the utmost confidence in her ability to do this. This confidence was perhaps unwarranted. But he did not know about the times the electricity was turned off or saw the red-bordered letters from creditors. I did. I saw these things. I learned from them.

During my first marriage, my future ex-wife (Barbara) also was in charge of paying the bills. The mortgage payment was automatically paid out of a savings account we had at the savings and loan which held the loan. We then set up a checking account at another bank for Barbara to pay the other bills from. Everything seemed to be fine. Three years after those accounts were set up, I saw a red-bordered envelope from San Diego Gas & Electric.

I queried Barbara about the bill.

Me: Why is this bill more than 30 days overdue?

She: Don't worry about it. Bills don't have to be paid on time. Businesses never pay them right away.

Me: We are not a business. We pay our bills when we get them, we do not put them off.

She: Fine! You pay them from now on!

Picking up the checkbook, I examined the section where you write in the check number and date and who it was to and the amount, and the balance. I noticed that the last entry was 10 checks short of the one which would be next. I also noted that the balance was at least a month old. In other words, I had no idea how much money was in the account.

Me: What's the current balance? Why aren't the last 9 checks in the register?

She: I know about how much is in there, there's plenty to pay that bill.

Beside being an indication of why she is now my ex-wife (there were a number of other reasons also), it was horrifying to me that anyone would be that blase' about finances. I never ended up with control of that checkbook. And we never had the power shut off. Or the phone. Or anything else. But I never felt quite so secure after that.

Let's apply this to the country in which I live. We have a huge national debt. The number just boggles the mind. There is a big debate going on in Congress about raising the debt ceiling. I don't understand that. Are we borrowing money to pay on our debt? That makes no sense. There's an old idiom that goes "Rob Peter to pay Paul." It's meaning is clear: it is not good to take or borrow from one to pay the debt owed to another.

When you find yourself regularly getting new credit cards and moving your debt to the new cards with higher credit limits, that's what you are doing. If you take out a second mortgage in order to make payments on your first mortgage, you are in big trouble.

I don't want the government to raise the debt ceiling. I want the government to reduce spending. Congress is trying to find some compromise between spending cuts and increasing taxes in order to pass a bill raising the debt ceiling. If a compromise is reached, and the debt ceiling is raised, listen for the *tink* of the can being kicked down the road. It is wrong. It is stupid.

It is past time to cut spending. It was time 30 or 40 years ago. But Congress has continued to spend. And spend more than the government takes in each year. It borrows to cover the shortfall. And borrows and borrows and borrows.

The reckoning is coming and it will hurt. Your children and your children's children are likely to end up responsible for that debt and will have to suffer much worse than we would if our elected representatives started an austerity program. I fear for the future of my grandchildren. I fear for the future of America.

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