Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"you'd bitch if you were hung with new rope" - my mother

This interesting little nugget has somehow caught commentators and the public (as if commentators aren’t public) by surprise. During the President’s first complete cabinet meeting he told all his department heads and agency chiefs to cut back spending (or find savings) by a total of $100 million: basically, find some administrative areas they can be more efficient and make them so. Now, I’ll simply point out that there is a massive difference, in monetary value and importance, between the spending programs, budget, and the economic recovery bills so ridiculed as waste by Republicans; and efficiency of an operation or organization. If the military is going to have a budget of x trillion dollars and the big budget cut is going to be the $550 toilet seat then we've got some comedy. But, this $100 million dollars is a matter of streamlining what is required for administration and management for the departments and agencies – nothing more, nothing less. This isn't meant as a move that adds or cuts programs in the big "budgetary" manner – we’re not talking about cutting a fighter aircraft order; we’re talking about saving money on the process that orders the aircraft, see the difference? And it certainly isn’t a pathetic effort or ploy as assessed by Andrew Sullivan or Greg Mankiw. Going back to the $550 toilet seat that everyone hoisted in the air as an embarrassment back whenever that happened: we wanted – we needed – to complain about the $550 in the vein of pure waste, but now we suddenly find it laughable that $100 million in waste can be saved…and someone is willing to do it?

Look, this has been Obama’s character since the campaign. Remember way back when he commented that ensuring that your tires were properly inflated could contribute – along with other programs he sponsored – to increasing mileage and saving energy? Regardless of the fact that it may only increase mileage by 3 -4%, being that we import more than 20% of our oil used for gas/fuel, it’s a nice amount of savings. He’s always been focused on building a process that leads to an end goal and not dicking around with lightning rod tomfoolery. Remember the Clinton and McCain support for the summertime gas tax holiday? He didn’t bite because removing a gas tax for ninety days isn’t any type of fix or leadership, it’s pandering. What he’s building in his administration is the idea that we’ll spend money wisely from the very top down to the smallest agency. If they can spend $100 to do something that an agency has been spending $300 to accomplish then why should we guffaw at them merely because our economy is in the shitter? That’s some really crappy analysis by Sullivan and Mankiw. You know what you could do to make it really funny? You could relate it to a cup of expensive liberal coffee and then it’ll really get a laugh! Hijinks!

How about this one: that funny total of $3 in the average family’s savings over a year would only save you enough money for 10 more rounds of .22 ammunition for your rifle. Man, that is so funny!

Here’s the breakdown: this savings idea is the equivalent, in your household, of buying a plain label brand of NyQuil or plain label pain reliever. It always makes sense; in good times and bad times. We get the same actual ingredients for less money. That is a totally different animal then saying that you can’t afford a $60,000 luxury car and then settling for something in the $55K range. Can I put a percentage savings on the plain label medicine that makes it look funny in relation to a $55,000? I can. If you are saving $4 on medicine but buying a $55,000 car then it’s only a matter of about .007%. That person is such a damn fool.

Buy the NyQuil.

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