01 March 2013

Sequester-size Me


Four friends are sitting around a table at their favorite fast food joint, a vacant-eyed plastic clown overseeing the meeting. Two of them, Ron and Daniel, are arguing over how best help Gary get back to good health.

The fact is that Gary has a problem. Even though he spends a good chunk of his waking hours eating, he spends the rest of his time running, and its finally taking its toll. His once strong figure now looks borderline emaciated, even as he crams burger after burger into his mouth.

Ron and Daniel had kindly helped Gary write up his new years resolutions - there was some debate as to how best to help him. Ron wanted him to spend a little less time working out, while Daniel kept suggesting he eat more! In the end, they decided that since they couldn't agree, Gary would start eating a lot more right away, and they would eventually cut back on his exercise regime starting on March 1.

However, now that the day has arrived, Daniel is hysterical! "We can't afford to let him slack off now! He's already working below his potential - We've got to figure out a way to get more food into him, and add some more hours onto his training, and that's that"

Does this tale sound familiar? Right now in the United States the Democrats and the Republicans are up in arms about automatic spending cuts called 'Sequestration' and telling everyone how its going to gut the US military and devastate the middle class.

The fourth friend, Leonard, speaks up. "The fact is Gary, you've got to lighten up on the track. And not just a little, a lot! You are burning over 38000kj running each day!"

It was true, Gary ran for an incredible 19 hours each day to stick to Daniel's exercise plan. The proposed cut in his schedule would let him rest for only 35 minutes. Ron had been pretty proud about getting Daniel to agree to it.

This years 'devastating cuts' amount to just $109 billion, leaving a 2013 budget of over $3.6 trillion!

Leonard continues. "Not only that, you already eat too much. 29 hamburgers a day is just ridiculous - and eating more is NOT a solution."

The US governments expected revenue for this year is about $2.9 trillion - leaving a deficit of over $700 billion... AFTER sequestration. That means without significant spending cuts, you would need to seize an additional $2200 and change from every American citizen to bring the balance into the black - let alone make a dent in the current US debt.

Gary grunts his assent through a mouthful of burger. But Daniel and Ron have already reached an agreement.
"Start stretching Gary, we've got a rough evening ahead of us!" Daniel barks. As Ron heads up to the counter to buy some more burgers, he types a proud tweet about how well he had stood his ground.

While Australia has historically been a great deal more fiscally responsible than the United States, its national debt has more than quadrupled since 2007. It would be wise not to wait until we are in such dire straits as the US to address the problem. Now is the time to make cuts and bring the budget back to balance, before it is too late.