Friday, May 22, 2009

A Modest Proposal


As you know, I have made it my policy not to intervene in your debates as either arbiter or ally, yet at the same time have reserved for myself the authority to act as catalyst when the need requires. It would seem that time has arrived.

Although both of you have agreed to discuss federal spending, it appears you have reached a deadlock on how your consideration of this subject should proceed. Mr Green, in the characteristic fashion of contemporary conservatism, wants the central issue to be spending on what he views as government attempts at social engineering - a feature which he has already rendered as a form tyranny. On the other hand, Mr Rhetts, in the fashion of modern day liberalism, would rather focus on spending for the military-industrial complex, which by all appearances he views with at least as much trepidation as Mr Green does welfare.

From where I sit, you have both made pretty arguments, but they are as useful as oat bags which have no oats in them. As a way of navigating out of this ideological swamp, I propose a challenge which you are at liberty to accept or decline.

Available here, rendered in classic view, is estimated federal revenue for the fiscal year 2010.

Available here, again in classic view, is estimated federal spending for the fiscal year 2010.

The challenge I propose is simple: Review revenue and spending for fiscal year 2010 and not only bring them into balance, but also allow for a budget surplus sufficient to reduce the federal debt by one of thirty, including interest: a policy which would anticipate the virtual elimination of the federal debt within 30 years. Using an admittedly arbitrary interest rate of 3.5% and with the debt currently at 11.3 trillion dollars, this surplus should come out to around 608 billion dollars: a considerable sum to be sure, but absolutely required unless either or both of you are willing to plainly state that your country can continue to operate on borrowed money for all time.

You may be as creative as you like. You may raise taxes or lower them. You may increase or decrease spending. I even assume you will employ deductive reasoning which an experienced man such as myself would consider cheating. Possibly, either or both of will assert that your proposals will have a salubrious effect only in future years - and thereby want make the claim which ordinary politicians do when they promise their policies will work a host of satisfying miracles only after they have left office. But I hold the two of you to be composed of sterner stuff. As chefs, I expect you to feed me with a fully baked pie, rather than a half baked turkey. Therefore show me, here and now, how you would exert the fiscal acumen you both claim to possess.

Deadline for your submissions is 8 AM Memorial Day morning. And do not mistake my natural congeniality for lenience. My tolerance for delay and chicanery is far south of zero. You may signal your acceptance of this challenge in the comments section below this post. And be quick about it - the national debt went up by eight million dollars in the time it took you to read this.

...Dr. Bernardo de la Paz


  1. I accept, but with mingled contempt and indignation. Sir, your methods are churlish and arbitrary. Where did you study political science, Devil's Island? Stalag 17?

    "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd." -Voltaire

  2. I will accept, but do not believe I will meet the assigned deadline (for personal reasons, considering the time required). I will post my results when I can.

    As we all know, the monster of a budget did not appear overnight as a fully-grown beast. To assume one can turn around the elephant (or jackass, as the case may be) in a fully-stocked closet in a few short hours is wishful thinking at best...

    Then again, maybe it won't be as hard as I suspect, if I limit myself to which budget items are the legitimate province of government and supply tax revenues accordingly... ;-)

    "I'm certain of it... I may be wrong, but I'm not uncertain." -Anon

    P.S. Oh, and this doesn't preclude posts on other topics, as the need arises.