Flawless is coming soon...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Double-Standard Bonanza

Our world is full of double-standards: A person tried and convicted for possessing 5 grams of crack cocaine will receive the identical prison sentence of someone convicted of possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine; the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including the United States, have veto power over the remaining 187 nations; Iraq was invaded and its government overthrown in 2003 for allegedly having a nuclear weapons program, while North Korea, India and Pakistan have had no such attack after flexing their nuclear muscles; In a state with capital punishment, a black person is more likely to be executed for killing a white person than a white person will be for killing a black person; and the citizens of Washington D.C. are outraged over the discovery that employees in the Office of Tax and Revenue issued more than $44 million in questionable property tax refunds, while our representatives on Capital Hill have overspent our Federal budget by more than $3.5 trillion in the last seven years without raising one eyebrow in the hallowed halls of Congress.

After the DC Tax Office revealed that a number of employees had been charged with steeling more than $44 million, many were calling for the Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, to resign. Those calling for his resignation believe that he should be held accountable for the gross incompetence that would permit such abuses. However, although he has apologized for the actions of those under his authority, he has not resigned and neither has Mayor Adrian Fenty forced him out over his somnambulant management style.

After watching the news cycle on this story run for about two weeks with periodic updates, I wonder if I am the only one who believes that this is a minor financial scandal compared to another one that is taking place in our nation’s capital: I’m talking about the perpetual state of deficit spending that our Congressmen have engaged in that has virtually saddled us with a national debt that we will never be able to repay. The debt has increased by more than $3.5 trillion during the Bush administration from a little more than $5.5 trillion when President Clinton left office in 2001 to over $9 trillion.*

This is a masterpiece of mismanagement!!

To put the $3.5 trillion in deficit spending during the Bush Administration in perspective, the entire accrued, national deficit didn’t hit $3.5 trillion until 1991. This means that the Bush Administration’s deficit spending during its seven years in the White House equaled what it took the United States 215 years to accrue from its founding. Or better yet, since Congress is playing with our money, let’s have a little game ourselves: If you had 3.5 trillion one dollar bills and you counted one bill per second, how long would it take to count them all (answer at the bottom of this post)? Hint: We’re talking of a number that is so enormous, you could not count to it in your lifetime.

I’ve heard people recite the mantra - “Congress has created debt that will be passed on to our grandchildren.” However, they said the same thing during the Reagan years, and now some of our grandchildren are beginning to contribute their share of the annual payments, and the total debt not only has not decreased, but has increased by eight-fold since President Reagan first entered the White House. Let’s face it, our grandchildren cannot repay this bill – if our elected officials suddenly received a dose of discipline, and decided to reduce the debt by ½ percent annually, it would take approximately 200 years to eradicate the irresponsible management of the last 25 years. This sounds more like a debt that will take 10 generations to repay using my arbitrary calculation above, than the two that we keep hearing about. And we have not even discussed the interest on the debt, which this year alone will be nearly $430 billion.

The D.C. residents want to hold Gandhi responsible for the mismanagement in the Tax Office; however, who do we, the American public hold accountable for Congress’s negligence in creating this unfathomable debt? But now that I think about it, these are the same public officials who had to close down their private congressional bank due to public exposure that in one year alone they wrote more than 8,300 rubber-checks. Investigators said that millionaire lawmakers were among the worst offenders. In fact, more than 575 checks were for $1,000 or more. Unlike you and I who are saddled with outrageous fees for returned checks, the members of Congress paid no fees, no fines, no interest and no penalties for their bounced checks.

Hold on, I’m having a Eureka moment: if lawmakers cannot balance their own checkbooks which are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, how do we expect them to balance a budget that exceeds $2 trillion? And these are the same elected officials who swore to uphold the Constitution and to faithfully discharge their duties as public officials?

* $5.5 trillion is an enormous sum of debt; however, one of the few good things that Bill Clinton did while he was President was that he balanced the national budget in his second term, and he reduced the debt by 1.9 percent during his final two years in office.

Answer to trivia question: How long will it take to count to 3.5 trillion seconds? It will take roughly 32,000 years to count each trillion seconds; consequently, 3.5 trillion seconds will take approximately 112,000 years to count.

No comments: