Monday, March 7, 2011

When you are deep in debt you should stop going to Starbucks

When you access news from a  fairly wide array of sources like I do (not Fox News though since I don't have cable) you sometimes glimpse lines of thought that have thoroughly captured the imagination of much of the nation's media.  I don't think they get together and plan this; they don't have to.  People in the news business are always attuned to what the competition is doing.

The latest of these notions I've noticed is that because non-defense discretionary spending is such a small portion of federal spending that we are just wasting our time talking about it.  What we really need to do, the thinking goes, is move on to entitlement and defense spending.  Don't be fooled by this argument.

While the analogy between a household and a government is an imperfect one, it can still be useful.  Imagine you had a friend that complained daily about how terrible his finances were and that he had some very large debt payments coming up.  Every time he was complaining though, in his hand he held the easily recognizable white cup from the Starbucks coffee chain, which you know can cost around $2 or more. Now imagine you pointed this out to him and his argument was that the coffee only cost $2 but his debts are much, much more than that.  Would you be convinced by this argument?

Getting non-defense discretionary spending isn't the only thing we need to be doing, but it is one thing we need to do. Someone should alert the media.

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