Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some Fools are Spending Our Money - By Jimmy Petrol

The common take on the Federal spending on infrastructure, health care et al is that it is going to be hard, hard, hard to afford.

Of course, there is only so much “money” to go around, only so many things we can “buy” with our little all. So it is true that to add new things to our national budget means something else has to go, or we start to run up debt we cannot pay.

It is a given, except among the intellectually challenged, that infrastructure has to be repaired, replaced and augmented to accommodate commerce and growth. Without roads, bridges, railroads, airports, levies and damns we would look a lot like the Third-World countries we revile for failing to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. Hard to use bootstraps in lieu of a bridge.

Without arguing the merits of universal health care or any other item new on the spending agenda, lets take it from here: at least the infrastructure has to be paid for and it is going to cost a bundle.

What can we stop spending “money” on so that we as a nation can afford to keep having electrical generating plants, canals, fresh water and all the other things that keep us from slipping backwards in terms of our “real” standard of living?

It may come as a surprise to you, but the American appetite for leisure is an expensive appetite. And even more surprising may be the fact that much of what America spends on “leisure” goes wasted and unused. If these luxury items were infrastructure items, they would be called “bridges to nowhere”.

As it is, what Americans, most Americans, do with their time is watch television. The vast majority of American leisure time is spent in front of the tube, scaring itself silly over chartreuse terrorist alerts and the notion that poor Mexicans may sneak across the border and instead of being nice little gardeners working for nothing may actually need repair and upkeep in the way of medical care.

What Americans can well afford to do is stop spending money on anything except televisions.
All the other money we spend on leisure we can spend on something we actually need.

The things that Americans buy but don’t use are expensive; there will be those who cry over lost jobs producing them. Dry your eyes and remember that there will be plenty of jobs creating and repairing infrastructure.

Remembering that Americans work a little, eat a lot and watch television the rest of the time, it is time to retire:
The gym membership, along with all the gym equipment.

Sports equipment like skis that skied once, carbon-fiber tennis rackets gathering dust in the back of the garage and fishing gear that doesn’t catch fish.

Boats. American marinas are full of boats that never get used, left rotting in the sun by people who only go out on the water on Memorial Day.

Jet Skis, quads, dirt-bikes and hiking shoes.

Tennis courts, backyard pools.

The list is endless. While Americans like to have a lot of stuff, they don’t like to get out and use it. The “outside” is too hot, too wet, too cold and too real; television and obesity are the new norm; let’s face it and take the money Americans waste on anything but television and spend it on sewers. After all, the toilet is the single most important part of the American infrastructure after the television station and is the only appliance in many American homes that gets as much use as the television and microwave.

It may seem harsh to advocate taking the American paycheck and stealing away the American Prerogative to waste it on whatever we want.

But the reality is that Americans can’t pay for the infrastructure they need; they can’t pay the bill for the water, sewers, bridges and dams they need to keep themselves in a position to continue thumbing their collective noses at the Third World.

It would be a crime to allow them to continue to afford to buy luxury items they never use.

In the American Heyday, the nine-teen fifties, Americans had nice, small houses, one car, one television and only owned sports equipment they actually used. They also paid for infrastructure they needed. It seemed to be ok then to just be well housed, fed, clothed and working at a humane and safe job for enough pat to have a little house, one car, etc.

It’s ok now for Americans to have to pay their way and stop wasting money on “stuff”.

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