Numbers, just like dollars, don’t add up in Washington

Politicians are fond of picking numbers out of thin air to suit their particular agendas. They feel if one repeats the numbers often enough, like many in the mainstream media are all too happy to do, then Americans will come to accept them as an unquestioned truth. More importantly, these truths become things that only the select, enlightened few in Washington D.C. (or those who rely on federal dollars for their livelihood) have the ability to manage.

Let’s take as a first example the minimum wage. It’s a feel good number that pinballs around Washington debates every so often when prices go up or when politicians feel the need to go after the “poor” vote. What the minimum wage does, like so many Washington policies, is hurt the very people it’s supposed to help.

Forcing a market to pay a wage above what that market dictates will only make things cost more and take away entry level jobs businesses can no longer support. Small business will hire fewer people simply because when margins are tight, every dollar counts. Obviously, when margins and business are good, all wages go up. All one needs to do it look at the introductory wage at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart to understand no law is needed here.

Who does a hike in the minimum wage help the most? That’s right, union members. How many of you know that many union contracts are based on a multiplier of the minimum wage? So a $1 an hour increase in the minimum wage could mean a$4 to $5 an hour increase to a union employee.

Lastly, the biggest fallacy of the minimum wage is the amount itself. If $7.25 an hour is too low (because every time we raise it, it isn’t enough), why isn’t $10 an hour better? Why not $50? There’s a reason politicians say you can’t raise a family of four on the minimum wage, it’s because no one should try to. Introductory wages are for people just starting out in the workforce and the truth is, no one earns those amounts for long. If you do, the problem is not your employer.

How about the nearly $800 billion dollar stimulus? I’ve never seen anywhere from any news source a reason for that specific number. As a matter of fact, the only stories I have seen told about how a low-level staffer came up with the $767 billion (or whatever the exact number was) number because it was large and sounded both impressive and ominous.

Also remember we were told that only the enlightened and brilliant federal government could spend enough money fast enough to create the stimulus the country needed to kick-start the economy. We were told they had the jobs ready and that the money would go towards roads, infrastructure and our future. And how did that work out?

First off, after all this time, they haven’t spent all of the funds. Estimates put the amount that went toward roads an infrastructure at a measly 6 PERCENT.

I would then have to gather that the rest indeed went toward the future. That is, if you have a future that relies on keeping your job in the government.

Now we have a new made-up number to debate and it;s called the debt limit. The reason I know it’s made up is because like the minimum wage, it keeps going up on the whims of our politicians. Like the stimulus, it’s also impressive and at this time in our country’s history, is being portrayed as ominous. And finally, the number is designed to help a select few, and yes, they’re al in the government.

Let’s scrutinize the debt limit as it relates to real life — something that the minimum wage and stimulus could never stand up to. You and I have debt limits. They’re placed on us by our banks, those that allow us other lines of credit and our income. We can ask for an increase in our limits, but that’s rarely up to us. The people who can grant our requests use the facts to allow or deny our requests. Also, the more of our limits we use to their maximums, the more our credit is hurt and the more difficult our lives can become. Most Americans make the sensible, and at times difficult, decisions to keep their credit rating and lifestyles in the proper perspective.

Obviously, something that sensible would never work in Washington DC.

When politicians want their debt limit increased, they go ask themselves if it should go up. And as history shows, it always does. Despite all of the rhetoric we hear now, it will again. But that’s not all. Once the limit is increased, you can count on the same folks to run their spending up to the limit, forcing the same debate in just a very short time. It’s simple to surmise when one understands that even the best plan being offered in Congress merely cuts OVERSPENDING and only slows the amount that we will INCREASE OUR DEFICIT over the next 10 years.

And these guys can’t believe our credit rating will go down. It HAS to.

It’s more than time to send everyone in D.C. back to real life where they, too, can worry about having to deal with the very real numbers they have spent decades putting into place — just like the rest of us.

About
Since June of 2000, Craig Hall has been the owner/publisher of the Grand Valley Business Times. He can reached at 970-424-5133 or publisher@thebusinesstimes.com
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Posted by on Jul 26 2011. Filed under From The Publisher, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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