Thursday, March 06, 2008

Budget Surplus: PSWBLMLO

The House has passed a budget plan that would allow President Bush's tax cuts to expire, and have surpluses by the year 2012. The Senate Budget Committee will look at a similar plan today, and you can bet there’s going to be another budget shootout between Congress and the White House.

Do you want the government to have a budget surplus?

Think about it: If the government has more money than it needs, it means you and I, the people who fund the government, have less money. We don’t need a government surplus.

I want the government to spend exactly what it takes, and no more. Nothing left over for “surplus,” because the Federal Government’s surplus is my personal deficit.

Government Surplus.
That’s a euphemism for PSWBLMLO:
Pile of Stuff We Bought with Your Money that’s Left Over.

That would make a great bureaucratic office: The Office of PS WB LM LO (pronounced “piss web lem loh”), except I think they already have one of those in Washington.
Actually more than one, come to think of it.

Euphemisms can be fun, when properly used.
For example, this budget plan that is working it’s way through the alimentary canal of Congress is a prelude to what the government wants to charge you for its existence. We used to call these “taxes,” but taxes are not PC—politically-correct, unless you’re using them as a battering ram about the head and shoulders of your political opponent.

No new Taxes.

Instead, we will have “budget reinforcements,” a handy euphemism first coined by the Swedish Finance ministry, no doubt on the occasion of some high level meeting in a hot tub somewhere overlooking a Fjord near the North Sea. There are also euphemisms for Budget Reinforcements.

Our friends in the heart of Texas, Austin, a few years back built a new airport on an old Air Force base. Didn’t want to tax people for the new place, but they needed budget reinforcements. Voila: in true, Austin-tatious government gobblety-speak, the “Passenger Facility Charge” was conjured—at $3 a head—for anyone flying through Austin.

I think The State of Minnesota had the best take on this:
Did you know they abolished their State Unemployment Tax?
It’s true.
But the state now collects a re-employment insurance tax. Same fee, of course, but when viewed through the lens of fiscal euphenimity, it can be perceived as constructive…even regenerative.

The problem with these fiscal fogs of polysyllabic prevarication is that they mask the problems they’re causing. Remember, we’re really talking about the idea of the Government operating with a surplus: extra money left over, which, as we all know, will result in poorer people, and broker companies.

Have no fear—there are linguistic treatments to be applied to these issues as well. No longer will we have poor in America…we’ll just have Fiscal Under-achievers.

Warren Buffet, by the way is not one of these, topping Forbes’ list of billionaires at $62-billion.

And lest other shareholders become distressed over losses this year, just use a trick from the Calgene playbook, which once described its results as “Negative Gross Profit.” Or as another corporate captain once described it, “negatively impacted profitability.”

I think that’s probably spot-on as a description of what your life and mine will be like if the government raises its budget reinforcements in order to create surpluses. If you like the idea of the government having more money than it needs, then you’re looking at a bleak future in which you will have less money than you need.
Then we’ll all have negatively-impacted profitability.

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