Mr. Smith Mimics Washington

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Posted: May 12, 2009 7:16 PM
Guest blog post by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

The “Smith Family” has an expensive house, a new car and they’d never purchase their chic clothes off the discount rack. If they want it, they buy it. Problem is, by the middle of April the Smith Family had spent all of the money they were going to earn during the entire year.
 
Huge bills are piling up. What will the Smith Family do?
 
Well, if the Smith Family is anything like the Obama administration, Daddy Smith will hold a news conference and announce that the family is prepared for “tough choices.”
 
“From now on, the Smith Family will save money by cutting out sliced fruits such as strawberries and bananas that go on top of our morning cereal,” Daddy Smith will announce solemnly. “Also, we no longer Super Size at fast food restaurants. Instead of buying 50 new designer shirts for each of the kids, we’ll bite the bullet and only get 49.”
 
This sounds at first as if it might amount to serious savings over the period of a year. But then Daddy Smith gets a question.
 
“Aren’t these cuts less than one half of 1 percent of your total spending for the year?” a neighbor asks. “And isn’t it true that 50 cents of every dollar you spend this year will go on your credit card and you personally will never pay it back?”
 
“How dare you, sir!” Daddy Smith thunders. “The house, the car, the clothes – they are the change we’ve been waiting for! These aren’t expenses; they are investments in our future. These investments will give my children the tools to earn the money they’ll need to pay for all these things I’m doing for them.”
 
“But aren’t things getting worse?” the neighbor continues. “Last year, your unpaid credit card charges were the biggest ever. This year’s is four times that. How is that sustainable?”
 
“We can’t just do these investments willy nilly,” Daddy Smith responds. “Besides, the people who lived in this house before broke a lot of stuff. It’s not my fault. I inherited this mess, if you think about it. But I don’t want us to get too far off point. I invited everyone here today to discuss the fact that we’re seriously cutting back. We’re making tough choices. We’re changing …”
 
“Not so fast, Dad,” says Nancy, one of the Smith children, accompanied by brother Harry and several others at a rival, impromptu news conference of their own. “We need that fruit for our cereal. It’s good for us; it’s nutritious. It might cost more in the short term but it will save us in the long term by keeping us healthy and avoiding costly doctor’s visits. And Super Sizing at hamburger joints gives the family more value for its dollar. We get lots more food and drink for only pennies more. It’s wasteful not to Super Size. Any idiot can see this cut is irresponsible and poorly thought out.”
 
“And about that trim of the clothes budget,” Harry butts in. “That’s a nonstarter. I’m sure there are lots of wasteful items that we can cut before we slash our fashion options back to the point where we’re the laughingstock of the middle school. Geez, Dad, why don’t we just write ‘We’re poor’ in giant letters on our foreheads?”
 
“Besides,” says Nancy, “we can just spend less on our home security system. Who needs that anyway? Now that we live here all the neighbors will promise to play nice!”
 
Daddy Smith looks distressed, not wanting the neighborhood to see such an unseemly family squabble.
 
“OK, kids,” he says. “No cuts this year. We’ll just add it to your tab.”

Lynn Westmoreland represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.