Balancing the Budget Without Effort

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Jul 13, 2009 5:46 PM
Balancing the Budget Without Effort

The premise is wonderful, the execution is easy, but understanding the problem is not so easy. Waste in America defies imagination. The waste I am referring to isn't the by-product of some manufactured or naturally grown item, it is the by-product of the incompetence of government, businesses and everyday citizens of this great country. Stop the waste and we will save trillions of dollars each year, which would probably be more than any politician can spend, including the current administration and their fascination with playing "break the bank".

I feel that understanding is the key to stopping the waste. This is best illustrated by the singing group ABBA. ABBA sings in English but, rumor has it, their Swedish members don’t know the meaning of the words. How many times have you talked to a politician, bureaucrat, business person or a consumer who speaks the language but doesn't appear to have the necessary ability to understand the words? Examples could fill several rather large sized books, however, I will give you some of the better ones I have participated in or witnessed.

Recently I received a call from my satellite tv provider's company, calling to tell me that because I hadn't paid the early termination fee, they were going to shut off my satellite service. I simply told them that if the charge was a real one (of course it wasn't), the call and the threat made no sense. The irony was lost on the caller because this went on once a month for three months. The waste of manpower on both sides was notable, and certainly falls into the realm of the waste I cited above.

If time is money and this exercise is repeated on a daily basis across the nation, can you imagine how many dollars are flying out the window each day, week, month and year?

Now imagine, if you will, trying to call the government, local, state or federal, and getting someone to "understand" your question for starters. Then if you have the time and the patience, see how long a simple problem takes to get resolved.

A few minutes, an hour, a day, a month or in some cases a lifetime? A former accountant accidentally change my social security number years ago and I went through a number of years with two tax accounts: the one they billed and the one where my taxes were credited. I tried to explain to the IRS but nobody would listen. After two years it took a personal audit by an IRS agent to straighten it out. Yes, truth can be much stranger than fiction.

How many dollars are sacrificed to the bias and inaccuracies of the media? Reports are published, denials follow, then discovery and the public forms their opinions. Up pops evidence that should have been considered and retractions come forth in an obscure part of the publication. Some lives, reputations or jobs are ruined, which usually includes large sums of money changing hands to try to undo the damage. What a terrible waste of time and money, and the beat goes on.

I cannot, in good conscience, write an article without some reference to the mortgage market. In particular HVCC, the home valuation code of conduct, championed by the Attorney General of New York, Andrew Cuomo. He believes that appraising is a science instead of an art, or at least he must, because he has turned the appraisal process on its ear and caused the loss of thousands of competent appraisers to quit the business.

The reason: under the new law, an appraiser cannot have any information about the transaction and therefore cannot make any attempt to try to make the transaction work.

"Sounds good, sounds fair and too bad we didn't have this before and we wouldn't be in this mess," say the politicians. The missing piece of the puzzle is that every appraiser is held accountable for the value he or she arrives at for the particular transaction. Therefore, it is common sense that the appraiser will always look for a way to bring the value as low as possible. It happens regularly and there is no rebuttal. You can have another appraisal done, but the same rules apply.

Many would believe the method described above would prevent foreclosures, but the number one and number two reasons for a homeowner to allow a foreclosure to be initiated are lack of a job and means to pay back the mortgage, which of course includes lack of sufficient liquid reserves. (Writers note: Congress has seen the statistics from the National Association of Real Estate and the statement that HVCC is stopping many transactions from closing, and is trying to effectively put an end to this new practice which is just two months old.)

You have read my reasons for believing we can turn the economy if we can make our citizens realize that everyone has a part in this country in advancing us forward to the good life, and each and every citizen needs to accept personal responsibility for their actions, good and bad.

Let's give up the thought about getting a free lunch and start working to cut the waste and perhaps nobody will be in need of a free lunch.