Virtual Voices

No Starbucks budget

Economy

Have you lost your job? Has the recession hit you in some other way? If so, what are you doing to deal with it? If you're like most Americans, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, you're doing some common sense things like foregoing your morning cup of Starbucks on the way to work.

If you're like me, you've already made some of the cuts in this Huffington Post slide show, based on the Harris Interactive poll, to improve your budget:

  1. Stopped buying a morning cup of coffee.
  2. Started packing your lunch.
  3. Started using refillable water bottles.
  4. Stopped seeing a hairdresser or stylist.
  5. Canceled magazine subscriptions (but not WORLD!).
  6. Cut back on TV cable services.
  7. Cut down on using dry cleaners.
  8. Canceled newspaper subscriptions.
  9. Bought more generic brands.

I've done Nos. 1, 3, 6, and 7. What about you and your family? Americans instinctively do practical things to balance family budgets. We cut expenses and do what we can to generate more revenue. I'm about to turn 50 and learned a few weeks ago that my pension was effectively cut in half-time to find ways to generate more income. Finance isn't rocket science for the average citizen, but why does it seem to be so difficult for our federal officials? Democrats and Republicans had yet another meeting yesterday to try to trim the deficit and they don't appear to be any closer to a deal.

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What would happen if President Obama and Speaker Boehner were to call some of the Harris Interactive poll respondents to Washington, lock them in a room, and ask them to come up with a budget deal? Could they cut a deal easier than their elected officials? After all, they wouldn't have to worry about getting reelected. But it wouldn't be long until they ran into that nasty problem of ideology. Eventually, they would begin debating the proper role of government. They might ask things like, "Should we provide Medicare and Social Security? And why and when did we start doing those things anyway? Should we raise taxes? Should we cut tax rates?" They'd probably get around to debating these issues in light of the nation's founding documents (they're rather straightforward writings).

It wouldn't be easy for the Harris Interactive survey respondents to generate a bargain, but I think they'd do it and do it rather well. They might be up all night negotiating . . . but they'd brew their own coffee because they know they can't afford Starbucks.

Lee Wishing
Lee Wishing

Lee is the administrative director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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