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Medical insurance claim form with money
In my Facebook feed the other morning, I saw someone sharing one of these notions that seems like basic common sense, until you start thinking about it and realize that common sense is often more common than sense. The claim was that you can put the fiscal cliff—the federal budget, really—in better perspective by taking eight zeroes off the end of a series of numbers and thinking of it as a family budget. Now, families and governments actually aren't a good comparison, as economists (and common sense, if that's your speed) would tell you. But since a lot of people find this basic idea a powerful comparison, let's think about what if the United States was a big extended family living under one roof with one budget.

What happened in this Facebook share once those zeroes were gone?

Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Budget cuts so far: $38.50
First off, this set of numbers tips its hand by only talk about cutting budgets, not increasing income for this fictional family. Which is interesting, because one of the big problems the America-family has is that a bunch of rich relatives are living in the house not doing their fair share to cover expenses. We've got an uncle who's down in the kitchen all the time telling the rest of us to eat nothing but beans and rice because we can't afford fresh vegetables and meat, and telling us to turn down the heat in the house if we're having trouble covering the power bill. And no, he's not going to share his giant steak because it's his and he bought it with his own money. But meanwhile, we're paying the electric bill for that space heater he's always running in his room, because he's not gonna be cold even if the rest of us are. And we're paying the gas bill for cooking that steak he didn't share. So a big part of that spending problem we allegedly have is that some people aren't acting like we're a family where everyone contributes to the income side.

Another part of why our family budget is hurting is that the factory in town that a couple family members made a good living working at for years or even decades closed down. Now sister's still unemployed and the best job dad could find was working at Staples for $9 an hour. And since when the factory closed, he lost his pension, he may never able to retire. As a matter of fact, it was friends of rich space heater uncle who closed the factory, and we're pretty sure he made some money in the deal himself. Doesn't stop him lecturing us about why we're struggling, though.

Next, a bunch of the debt we took on last year was investing in our future. One of the kids is college age and we thought it was worth taking on some student loans to invest in her future. We feel sure when she graduates, she'll do her best to contribute to the family budget. We think in the long run she'll be able to contribute more to the family's bottom line with a college degree than if she just started working at Walmart right now, but, well, right now that investment is debt on our balance sheet. But that's what families do—they invest for the future and try to ensure that the kids have the brightest possible future.

We also took out a small-business loan to expand a little furniture-making business one of the brothers started out of the garage. With better equipment and a small advertising budget, we're hopeful he'll be able to grow the business and provide jobs for a couple other family members who've only been able to get part-time work.

We've also been having a family debate about whether to put a little more money into the house, actually. See, there was a big storm and a tree fell through the roof. Most of the bedrooms are fine, but two of them are really badly damaged. Some of us think all the members of the family deserve to have mold-free walls and roofs without gaping holes, but others aren't so sure and think maybe the people in those rooms ought to be on their own to recover from a tree coming through their roofs and crushing their stuff. We're hoping to win this one by reminding everyone that the people in those rooms have good jobs and pay more than their share of the bills most of the time. If they get too sick to work or have to take time off work to figure out how to fix things, the whole family will be financially weaker for it. We'll see how that one goes, but I sure think the whole house and the whole family will be weaker if we don't try to shore up after a disaster.

So, yeah, it's been a tough year what with the storm and all the rich relatives living in our house, running up the bills, but only contributing like 13 percent of their money to the family budget while a lot of us with much less money are contributing more like 30 percent. We're trying to invest for the future, though, and fighting to get those rich relatives to contribute a little more to the family budget. We'll see how things go with that, but meanwhile, it's not helpful to just strip the numbers down without any context for why we took in so little, or why we spent what we did.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos Classics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks, Laura. Well done! n/t (122+ / 0-)

    The filibuster is a crime against democracy.

    by schuylkill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:06:54 AM PST

    •  Wish I could rec a million times.... (18+ / 0-)

      hope you don't mind if I send the link to a LOT of people!

      If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. John F. Kennedy ( inaugural address, January 20, 1961)

      by Outraged Mom on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:50:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong (0+ / 0-)

      Your idea of "increasing income" in this example is the equivalent of going to your neighbors house and stealing their money to pay your bills.

      You do NOT have the right to other people's money.  

      Just like this burglar would go to jail, so should the people who use government force to take from others.

      •  Sadly, no. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elphie, Dave in Columbus

        I know that's the meme over at redstate and freeprepublic, but over here we prefer dealing with facts.  Sorry.  If "a nation is like a family" then "going to the neighbors' house and stealing their money" is the equivalent of mounting an armed invasion of Mexico, or Canada, or  -- hmm, maybe Iraq or Afghanistan? -- and then stealing their money, or in any event their resources.  Not like we've ever done that as a country.

        Sorry, there are no "other people" (other than other countries) in this analogy.  It's just that, as the diarist pointed out, the rich relatives are living very large while refusing to pull their own weight, meanwhile passing the costs on to the rest of us.

        The burglar is committing an unlawful act.  The government, through taxation, is committing an eminently lawful act.  It's right there in the United States Constitution (that document that conservatives claim to love and cherish, while actually hating it) -- Article I section 8, and Amendment 16.  The fact that you happen not to like it doesn't make all taxes illegal, sorry.  Argument fail.

        Thanks for playing.

        •  Correct! Some confuse freedom with freeloading (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If you want to be part of this country, pay your dues.

          •  Thank you :) (0+ / 0-)

            Meanwhile, Irube appears to have left the room....

          •  What "dues"? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The only freeloaders, to my knowledge, are the rich and corporations. Each massive, annual tax cut to those corporations that still pay US taxes at all, simply means that what they owe is passed on to the tax bills paid by the working class. Note that the people will be paying for the longest war in our history for many years to come. Note, too, that the bulk of handouts given to corporations since the 1980s went into building factories and offices around the world, shutting down jobs here, shrinking govt. revenues.

        •  Or from another perspective -- (0+ / 0-)

          The rich are now doing to the middle class what the middle class already did to the poor. When we successfully pitted the middle class and poor, workers and the jobless, against each other, corporate powers were able to move in and essentially rob the Treasury. From Reagan's deregulation mania onward, America gave corporate powers an extraordinary amount of money and power, out of fear. Our very survival today depends on the jobs they allow to be created in the US.

      •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

        We already figured out (years ago) that this reframing of our economic situation has no legitimacy. It is embarrassingly simplistic.

      •  Defective analogy (0+ / 0-)

        People who use "government force" to take from others do so with due process as described in the Constitution by the process we call "taxation" or legally adjudicated fines.  We elect people to our Congress in large part to decide how much taxes we should pay. This is not stealing.  
        The only government entities that actually steal people's money without due process are DEA goons that confiscate non-evidentiary money and other assets because of their suspected but not proven connection with illegal activity.

    •  Tax All Properties (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...belonging to churches and "religious" organizations.  There is no good reason that they should get a free ride at MY expense in a secular nation.

    •  Correct. And these "sounds logical" memes (20+ / 0-)

      that collapse when you examine them are making me crazy, especially since a lot of people on the left buy into them too. I'm seeing a lot of term limits proposals and that the graphic about congress' salary going around on Facebook. While I understand the frustration with Congress, those are non-solutions and non-issues. Sometimes simplifying something involves getting it entirely wrong.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:43:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah ... "term limits" just ties people (10+ / 0-)

        more firmly to lobbying firms and "think tanks". They gotta look out for their future after all.

        And it leaves anonymous staff as the only people with experience. They (and ALEC) write the legislation and the Congress critters just front the stuff.

        Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

        by ohiolibrarian on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:28:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Term limits put the lobbyists even more in charge, because they -- in addition to the anonymous staff ohiolibrarian mentioned -- are the only people around with experience.  

          And cutting congressional salaries just means that only rich people or people on the take can afford to run and hold office.

          •  That's what we have. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It takes truckloads of money to run a viable campaign, especially for higher office. The primary sources of this money, of course, are the rich and corporations. If you want enough money to run a campaign, you will have to be willing to represent the interests of the rich and corporations, regardless of any populist spiel you use to get elected. I don't see a realistic solution. The first time I was old enough to understand the "urgent call" for campaign finance reform was back in the 1960s. We still hear the same call. Campaign finance reform would have to come from the very people - Congress - who so wildly profit from keeping the system as it is.

    •  I find it interesting... (16+ / 0-)

      ...that the conservatives who are pushing this false comparison are never willing to talk about increasing income.

      Because, after all, if I was in the shape of that hypothetical family, I would be looking for ways to increase my income as well as looking for ways to cut my spending.  That would be the "balanced approach" that President Obama talks about...

      But for conservatives, maybe it is a reasonable comparison -- because when you listen to their rhetoric about job creators, makers, and takers, it becomes very clear that they don't believe that working people deserve to make more money.  In fact, they demonize the majority of working people as takers who mooch off of the productive"job creators".

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:54:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even if you don't talk about increasing income, (11+ / 0-)

        You really shouldn't leave out the part about how almost half of the family's income is being spent on guns and ammo.

        I'd like to see a similar chart that breaks down the "family budget" with how the US budget actually spends money.

        •  Yep (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KateCrashes, atana, splashy

          And are we in a new Cold War?  There are no competitors.  No one is spending as much as we are.  NO ONE.  Scroll down a little on this link to see the comparison between our defense spending and the other four top military spenders.  It will rock your world.

          Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

          by rbird on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:48:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We are in the Forever War (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            There are turbaned hordes of terrorists out there, making it imperative that we turn over all our wealth to the military industrial complex.

            In fact, we have had to turn over many, many times more than all our wealth, which is why we now have a huge deficit and must eat austerity beans and rice (except of course for the Owners of the military industrial complex).

            •  That's the brilliance of it (0+ / 0-)

              A "terrorist" today can be anyone, anywhere. It is used to define anyone who, essentially, publicly opposes our corporate state. On the austerity agenda, well, that's more complex. The US has been rolling out the austerity agenda for the past quarter century, from the bottom up -- all with the support of the middle class. Now that it's starting to hit the middle class hard enough, they're getting all surly about it. Oh well. Those who are eating the austerity beans and rice are still far better off than those who have none.

          •  Still (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            This reflects the priorities of whatever remains of today's middle class. Be honest -- would you rather spend one dollar to provide poverty relief for America's poor, or $100 to maintain our war agenda? Our policies answer this question.

        •  Bingo! (0+ / 0-)

          Problem is, a lot of conservatives seem to be spending something closer that percentage on guns and ammo already.

          The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

          by Back In Blue on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:25:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  More realistically (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There is no need to improve wages today. Think: The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare aid in the 1990s. We now have an abundant surplus of job-ready people who are desperate for any job at any wage. There is nothing to fall back on. We've been transitioning to low wage (increasingly temp) jobs for years. Every low wage worker is on a tightrope with no safety net below, a single job loss from losing everything, with no way back up. The more our number of desperately poor grows, the more determined we (and especially liberals) are to pretend they don't exist.

        In a nutshell, we looked at the policies and programs implemented from FDR to Reagan, which took the US to its height of wealth and productivity, and chose to reverse course, doing the opposite. The inevitable happened.

    •  How many household can print money? Or have... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...the vast number of resources or scope of responsibility that a government has? It's not even an apple to oranges comparison. It's apples to horses.

      I think it's easier to say it by pointing out that the same household was making about $75,000 dollars a year 30 years ago. And the expenses were only nominally larger than here. Oh, and where's the mortgage payment? It's considered advantageous for a household to owe an additional $450,000  + taxes in our society. Owing 400% to 600+% over your annual income is considered a wise investment by most people. Especially conservatives. And normally the longer you run a household where no one ever retires, you usually become more prosperous over time. Even after speedbumps and setbacks.

      The uncles are embezzlers and should be in jail.

      •  Budgets (0+ / 0-)

        Middle classers have to learn to scale back. A lot. There is no clear definition of "middle class," which adds to the confusion about just who we mean when we refer to "middle class." What we do know is that those who were trying to get on their feet on some $4k (annual) welfare aid were said to be living so comfortably that they had no incentive to find jobs. That was an exaggeration, I'm sure, but if Americans believed that $4k provided a comfortable life with adequate food, shelter and utilities, how much money is needed to live really well? Much of the debt run up by middle classers is the result of trying to live above their means.

  •  And for some good news (51+ / 0-)

    the credit card company lowered our interest rate to zero so it definitely seems like a good time to do the repairs and get the kids through college !

    Let that bastard uncle grumble all he wants.

    -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

    by Blueslide on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:09:16 AM PST

  •  Beautifully written. (35+ / 0-)

    I'm going to refer people to this page when they insist on making stupid comparisons.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:10:01 AM PST

  •  Appeals to 'common sense'? (20+ / 0-)

    When I hear appeals to common sense to justify moronic positions, I want to ask, 'You mean the common sense that tells us that the world is flat, or that the sun goes around the Earth, or that heavy objects fall faster than light ones? You mean THAT common sense?'


    The filibuster is a crime against democracy.

    by schuylkill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:15:21 AM PST

    •  Heavy objects do fall faster than light ones (0+ / 0-)

      most of the time.  Unless you happen to be on the moon or something like that, of course.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:43:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The weight of an object doesn't affect the rate... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that it falls. A light object and a heavy object of the same size and shape will fall at the same rate even through an atmosphere. If there's no atmosphere, they'll fall at the same rate even if they have different sizes and shapes.

        The point is that 'common sense' isn't always true. Reality is often more complicated than what is immediately apparent, so appeals to common sense ("It's only common sense that...") are often misleading and deceptive.

        The filibuster is a crime against democracy.

        by schuylkill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:20:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ha! (0+ / 0-)

      Americans don't put much stock in common sense. This is the generation that decided our super-rich need more money, and that our very poor live lives of luxury.

  •  Security for the household (58+ / 0-)

    Don't forget that we're spending about $10,000 of our annual income on house security. We have 24 hour armed guards around the house and throughout the neighborhood, lots of fancy security hardware, and we buy every new security gadget on the market. This for a neighborhood with very little crime affecting us.

    If you don't know where you're going, any road will do.

    by exregis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:16:09 AM PST

  •  Common Sense is a gateway drug to (21+ / 0-)

    Magical thinking......

    As the Elites Come Together to Rise Above to Find a Third Way to do Rude things to the 99%

    by JML9999 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:16:33 AM PST

  •  funny you should mention family budgets (18+ / 0-)


    hubbie and I are going to sit down TODAY and review our's.

    He is now getting a pension so maybe we aren't going to have to keep trying to cover all the bills on my one income (which is less than $36,000 and we are home owners with property tax and school tax, and propane and oil bills and well, everything....).

    Hoping the panic attacks that I get after every bill paying session, will lessen.

    thanks for this. And also, I do get the point of the diary. I am not making light of it!!

    You hit the nail on the head. where is my calculator.

    I live in a country where the health and safety of it's people takes second place to profits and political gain. Enough.Is.Enough.

    by karma13612 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:16:37 AM PST

  •  To be real (7+ / 0-)

    The problem is the $142K on the credit card and how the hell did we let it get that high?

    Just sayin

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:18:12 AM PST

  •  The rich uncle also believes that (16+ / 0-)

    cutting the income will also balance the household budget so you really should work fewer hours.  

    And by the way, stop asking for more credit because as everyone knows that will just increase the problem, even if you can't afford to buy the beans because you are sending your kid to school (who asked you for a loan so she could afford it.)

    After the Republicans burn down the world, they will prove the Democrats did it.

    by jimraff on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:18:59 AM PST

  •  Good rebuttal (27+ / 0-)

    to the right wing talking points.  Comparing a family's budget to the government's is like saying corporations are people.  Wrong on so many levels.  Or bragging about running government like a business-- another illogical and wrong headed argument.  Governments are supposed to be concerned about the public welfare---corporations- profit.  One way, however, the parallels ring true:  businesses have to take on debt to succeed,  and so do governments.

    I got so mad the other day listening to some Republican congressman railing against relief for Hurricane Sandy in the context of government spending and debt.  He was saying that all this debt was a threat to our children and grandchildren's security.  What about the children and grandchildren right now who are suffering?  What about their security right now?

    "We have facts on our side. They have propaganda on their side."

    by rlharry on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:19:21 AM PST

  •  I love your research and your analyses (14+ / 0-)

    I was especially thrilled the other day when you linked to the wsJ piece about administrative costs sky-rocketing at public universities.  I have forwarded it to friends and family in academia and they are forwarding it to everyone in their depatrments.

    by chloris creator on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:19:25 AM PST

  •  You forget to add (22+ / 0-)

    that you have a perfectly legal money printing machine in the basement, and some Chinese and Saudi friends who'll lend you as much money as you need at nearly no interest, because they trust you and in any case already have a lot invested in you and don't want you to go bust and not be able to pay it back. Oh, and some of the family's income goes straight to a rainy day fund that no one's allowed to touch until it rains--not even rich uncle, who's been trying to get his hands on it for years as he rambles on about "teats".

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:19:45 AM PST

    •  Right The Government can PRINT MONEY and MUST (6+ / 0-)

      As production grows, either the money supply must grow or each increment of product is worth less money because the amount of money is fixed.
      It is therefore desirable that the money supply grow at roughly the same rate as production increases, however since like 1874, we have let the banks expand the money supply via fractional reserve lending, so that money is created as debt.
      It is the creation of money on which interest is owed, "Debt money" that leads to an unsustainable situation over and over because the principal plus interest that must be repaid is always greater than the total money created, so ultimately the bill can not be repaid.

      To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

      by Bluehawk on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:34:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very few people seem to understand (14+ / 0-)

        public debt these days. I'm certainly no expert, but the idea that you can only spend what you have RIGHT NOW is not only idiotic and silly, it's contradicted by most peoples' own personal experience, in the form of mortgages and student and auto loans, credit card debt, etc.

        What people who believe this are effectively calling for is a pure cash economy, which we haven't had for nearly 1000 years, and which would make impossible the modern world, which floats on massive oceans of debt.

        What people who believe this don't seem to understand is that debt, properly managed, is an economic "force multiplier", and need only be repaid over time, not immediately. Present and near-term debt, and deficit, is really irrelevant, so long as it enables the production of enough excess profit that will allow you to pay it back over time. That's literally how debt works, at its most basic level.

        Obviously, the math is a lot more complicated in reality, but this is the basic concept. Debt can only be properly viewed over the long-term time horizon.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:07:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We don't want a pure cash economy but we want a (5+ / 0-)

          reasonable balance between revenues and expenditures.  Bush and Greenspan destroyed that balance in an effort to destroy SS and Medicare, they knew eventually the lack of balance would allow the R's to make the case they these programs were too expensive.  SS is not a problem, Medicare is but not because of the program but because of a structural flaw in our healthcare system which NO ONE is willing to address.  Our fee for service system does not deliver cost effective health care.  America has met the boundaries of the lie that markets left unfettered are always the best solution.  It has never been true, markets left unregulated devolve into a crime syndicate which has happened repeatedly in this country.  FDR knew this and did everything he could to prevent it, we are just not smart enough to remember the lessons of that history which is why we find ourselves in the mess.  

          •  We only need to keep the books balanced (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Leap Year, Gary of Austin

            over the long term. Short to mid-term we can do almost whatever we want, including incurring huge debt and running massive deficits. This has been understood for centuries, and done for much longer. Debt unused is often debt wasted. I.e. free or cheap borrowed money that can be used to do good and necessary things that in time will more than pay for itself (in the aggregate, as obviously not all debt ends up being good or smart debt). This is pretty much an established principle of public (and much private) debt.

            Obviously, much if not most of the public debt incurred during the Bush era was bad and stupid debt, which, combined with irresponsible and unnecessary tax cuts for the rich, financial deregulation, and other bad policies, has led to the financial mess we're currently in. But the only way to get out of it is by spending our way back to prosperity, combined with prudent tax cuts and spending cuts in other areas, as and when necessary and possible. This, of course, will require yet more debt. Not a problem. We can afford it.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:10:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Move SS/Medicare off budget please (15+ / 0-)

    They do nothing but distort reality.  When FICA payments exceed payouts they make the surplus seem larger than it really is (1999-2000).

    The SS Trust fund has a positive balance of $2.7 trillion and should be seen as a stand alone entity rather than consolidated in the federal budget.

    Keeping them on a consolidated federal budget obscures the true cost of money losing defense programs.

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

    by shrike on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:19:50 AM PST

  •  Great job, Laura! (9+ / 0-)

    Analogy everyone can understand!  Hats off to you.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:19:51 AM PST

  •  Some thoughts... (10+ / 0-)

    Good post! Here are some further observations

    First, here's a really good analysis of the debt:

    Second, as someone noted above, the interest on the "credit card" is very low; under 2% according to Pollin (above). So framing this issue as "credit card debt" implies a heavy cost to carry the load because that's what it is for the average American. But it's not.

    Third, for any American with a mortgage, the average mortgage size is about $190,000. Therefore EVERY homeowner, even if he pays all his bills monthly and has low credit card debt, is already actually deeply in debt. :-)

    Finally, the real issue that jumps out here is that the income is too low! We need to get rid of the capital gains tax break, dividend tax break, etc. We need to raise the salary cap on Social Security so it is fully funded. None of these changes will really hurt the rich. But they will help to balance the budget and level off increases to long term debt. Finally, cut Defense by 10%.

  •  Gregory (11+ / 0-)

    David Gregory just used this exact example on MTP introducing Simpson and Bowles.

    What a tool.

    I'm a Bobby Kennedy Democrat

    by docstymie on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:21:19 AM PST

  •  In the GOP family the biggest asshole wins (7+ / 0-)

    and that is no family anyone wants to be in.

    “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” ~Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

    by Max Runk on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:29:09 AM PST

  •  I got in trouble over that budget post on FB (9+ / 0-)

    I made a comment about how we pay for those rich peoples military protection & most of us don't really think we need it.

    The timeline owner came back with both the left & right have to cut EVERYTHING on their pets. not exact words

    I answered: Oh grandmas a pet?

    she went off saying I put words in her mouth.
    I had to work & didn't look at the post for several hours.

    she left the picture up, but deleled everyones comments & said don't ever come on my timeline with talking points


  •  It should also be pointed out that most families (34+ / 0-)

    ...don't spend 20% of their household budget on home defense.

    Every year.

    Most heads of the household also don't spend $20,000 to break into their neighbors' house and trash the place because they mistook them for someone else who wronged them, charge the whole thing to their credit card and then try to hide the card statement from their spouse and kids.

  •  Love this! (7+ / 0-)

    What is it with rich uncles? Why are they always such pains in the ass?

    Can we take this "family budget" vs. "rich uncle" and get it to meme level?  

    Cut out the rest and just say, "family budget?" Well there's a rich uncle or two in the family who aren't paying into the  "family budget" like the rest of us.

    I can see President Obama using it and certainly Elizabeth Warren.

    Did I say how much I love this?

    "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

    by New Jersey Boy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:30:59 AM PST

  •  Why bother (12+ / 0-)

    being a sovereign nation if we don't try our best to take care of our people? Cut everything other than defense? Defense from who? Who wants to take over a country loaded with poor people? This budget argument always makes me angry.

  •  The next time I see it on Facebook... (12+ / 0-)

    I hot listed this diary and the next time I see that stupid post on Facebook, I'm replying with this entire diary.

  •  Not much improvement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlharry, misslegalbeagle

    over the simplistic original scenario.

    Among other things, Rich Uncle et al. is, in fact, paying out the lion's share of the budget. You may think that this is less than a "fair share" (forever undefined, it seems), but it is far from nothing. So far as federal income tax is concerned in the analogy, it's more likely that Rich Uncle is paying than a good chunk of the rest of the family.

    Increasing income is a great idea. In order to meet expenditure, all the family needs to do is to raise it by about 175%. Suggestions from anyone who has raised their income by that sort of percentage are very welcome.

    Investment. Investment implies payoff and retirement of debt. The former is uncertain (does anyone still believe that college pays for itself?) and the latter is no longer contemplated, as our family has decided that we will simply churn debt forever.

    I'd dump the whole analogy.

    •  Almost. But not quite. (8+ / 0-)

      That rich uncle may be paying more dollar-wise than the rest of the family members, but he is still paying far less than his percentage share; were he paying the same rate as mom and dad are, more than half of that 175% increase would be accounted for.

      And the family would be able to meet their obligations AND have a bit left over for some life improvements, like re-siding the house or building a new garage.

      "Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati" - Red Green

      by FlashfyreSP on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:56:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Paying less (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        As I said, it's not that he's paying nothing.

        Uncle is paying less than his percentage share of what? Gross family income? Have you got a rule that says each should pay some proportion of their percentage share of that income? Care to quantify? This is a serious question, albeit one that seems to be ducked perpetually.

        However, let's assume you decide to appropriate a good chunk of uncle's cash. Now you have, so to speak, raised income so that expenditure only exceeds it by about merely 80% (perpetually compounded). So, please tell me where the next chunk of change can be derived? And the chunks after that, to take care of the compounding. And the chunks after that. The plan for such impressive growing of the pie ought not remain a secret.

        •  How about the same 30%, sunshine? (5+ / 0-)

          You know, like what his other family members are paying. Right now, rich Uncle Dick is only putting about 13% of his money into the budget, which, by your reasoning, is the lion's share. . . but only of the amount actually collected. If he were contributing an amount consistent with the same percentage rate that the rest are putting in, the budget would have a much larger total than it does now.

          THAT is where the "serious question" fails to be answered by those who would have the family members just stop spending.

          Oh, and I shall ignore your weak broadside fired at the end of your comment. Keep your powder drier next time, you might score a hit.

          "Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati" - Red Green

          by FlashfyreSP on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:12:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  30% (0+ / 0-)

            1) Let's just start with the overall figure, in which the top 5% pays about 60% of total federal income tax.  If you make that the top 50%, they they pay nearly all of it (about 97%).

            2) The bottom 50% pay less than 5% of their income as federal income taxes. If Rich Uncle is the top 5%, he's paying about 22% federal tax. If he's in the 1%, and even 0.1%, that's closer to 28%.

            3) So, where is this 30% that "the rest" are putting in? Eh, sunshine?

            4) Important distinction—spend less ≠ stop spending. Quite possibly not every family member needs an iPhone, iPod, iPad and a leased car. Might be worth looking into. Just maybe.

            4) Remember to get up off your broadside every so often, to keep the baby powder dry.

            •  so in your twisted reasoning the uncle (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              shouldn't kick in his fair %30 because %50 of the family (the children and the grandparents) aren't capable of contributing %30? Looks like the fair way to contribute to the household would be for all the adults that work, to contribute equal shares of their income to maintain the entire family, no? Shouldn't uncle's gambling earnings also be subject to the %30 threshold? Especially since the entire family contributes to his losses by constantly paying his debt.

              •  Reading is fundamental (0+ / 0-)

                For instance, you would be hard-pressed to find me saying that the uncle should not kick in 30%. Go ahead. Try to find it. And then see if you can get your money back from that speed reading course.

            •  Sorry to rain on your parade (0+ / 0-)

              But this pie fight is over. Thanks for playing, sunshine. We have some lovely parting gifts for you backstage. Maybe next time you'll win the big prize.


              "Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati" - Red Green

              by FlashfyreSP on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:33:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  As eyes grow cloudy... (0+ / 0-)

              I'm still trying to figure out those middle classers who are so outraged that the poor pay little or no income taxes, based on whether they have little or no incomes.

      •  ...or fixing the roof. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FlashfyreSP, OhioNatureMom
    •  Said uncle (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FlashfyreSP, OhioNatureMom

      is rich because he kept asking for paid help doing this and that but paid a pittance for the work.

    •  We would like to dump (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FlashfyreSP, OhioNatureMom, Amber6541, BYw

      the analogy, too, however, that's the analogy that has been accepted by the other side and by many regular people.

      So, the analogy should be rebutted by our side, even if not perfect.

      Further, Uncle pays greater absolute $, but still sucks up a greater proportion of benefits and still causes the supermassive black holes that suck out income from everyone else [defense, banking].

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:38:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry, but this is garbage. (11+ / 0-)

      Drunk Uncle pays more in absolute dollars because he has more.  But he does not pay his share in terms of percentage of income.  He receives more income, but he doesn't do anything extraordinary to "earn" so much more.  In fact, he gets that huge salary because he screws his family out of a living wage, so that his family has to get government help just to feed the kids.  Then he complains that the government spends too much feeding freeloading kids- his own family.   Welcome to Walmart Economics.

      •  Huge point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FlashfyreSP, brillig, BYw

        The real takers and freeloaders, the companies that pay less than their workers need to live--especially the lack of health insurance--relying on government to pick up the slack, or their workers' spouses' employers to offer decent insurance.  

      •  Sorry (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        He also took most of what used to go into "government help to feed the kids." While the middle class demanded an end to basic welfare aid, our govt. was also busy redistributing several trillion taxpayer dollars upward, to the the rich and corporations. If you're able to work and have any job at all, you're still doing better than many fellow Americans.

  •  Mortgage vs income... (6+ / 0-)

    Families routinely take out loans that start out as being something on the order of 3-5 times their annual salaries, and often then further take out revolving 'line of credit' loans against whatever portion of the mortgage they've actually paid off.

    That would be the equivalent of the country taking out a loan of 300% to 500% the annual GDP, not the just over 100% of GDP at which our national debt currently exists.

    That would be like a family that earns 50k a year taking out a mortgage on a 50k house, rather than the 150-250k house most of them would normally buy.  Oh, and that family gets to decide how much they get paid in income.

    •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

      right and that's one reason I hate that horrible analogy to a family budget.  I had a mortgage of >200% whenyoung, but wouldn't think of it now that we're on the verge of retirement.  what's the analogy of government budget to family budget say about age and other such critical factors?

  •  I call myself a "conservative" and only (13+ / 0-)

    in this past election did I support the Dems.  From that point of view, I actually think there is value in thinking about it from the perspective of the simple chart.  It shows how much of a whole we are in and how difficult the choices are going to be moving forward.

    However, I think the biggest flaw of the chart wasn't pointed out by Laura (although she kinda alluded to it with the rich uncle analogy).  If the nation is a family our family income actually includes the rich uncle in the basement, and the two middle class aunts living in the guest room and the den.  Thus, the income should be wages (and other earned income) of all people under the household.

    So what was the total of the wages paid in 2011?  Following our method of lopping off 8 zeroes it would have been $129,949.

    And that figure doesn't include the money made by anybody living in the household that made money from the stock market or rental income of their second homes (or any other  sources of income).  So with the understanding of the family income better understood, you see that the original analogy (and Laura's and mine) really falls apart but it does seem to indicate that perhaps the rich uncle and the aunts can help out a little more.  As one of the middle class "aunts" I'm ok with pitching in more as long as we do some cost benefit analysis on everything we spend our money on to better allocate our resources.  One of the biggest things would be that expensive home security system (defense) that is costing us something like $5,000 or $6,000 a year.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:39:11 AM PST

    •  You nailed it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Something about both versions of the analogy, both the original teaparty version, and Laura's correction to it, still felt incomplete.

      So, basically, it's no so much that we need to figure out ways to increase the "income" part of the budget, it's that many members of the extended family are keeping most of their income to themselves.

    •  I believe the UNM figure includes (0+ / 0-)

      investment income. The header says "Total Personal Income ..."

      If I am wrong, I'd very much like to be corrected with a link.

      Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:54:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, how I got to that link was I typed (0+ / 0-)

        in "total wages earned in US" at Bing.  I then typed in "Total Personal Income" and the first entry was a wikipedia entry that stated:

        Total personal income is defined by the United States' Bureau of Economic Analysis as:
        income received by persons from all sources. It includes income received from participation in production as well as from government and business transfer payments. It is the sum of compensation of employees (received), supplements to wages and salaries, proprietors' income with inventory valuation adjustment (IVA) and capital consumption adjustment (CCAdj), rental income of persons with CCAdj, personal income receipts on assets, and personal current transfer receipts, less contributions for government social insurance.[1]

        So to be quite honest I have no real idea, based on that definition, if buying a stock for $5 and selling it for $10 would result in a $5 increase in personal income.   If somebody more familiar with bureaucratic speak could parse the definition, I would find it helpful.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:48:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Brilliant! (4+ / 0-)

    Absolutely brilliant, creative thinking and writing!

  •  And another thing, (12+ / 0-)

    How much of your family budget should you set aside to pay for invading your neighbor's house?

  •  A year ago, I wrote a rebuttal (14+ / 0-)

    to Senator Isakson (R-GA) because he used similar analogies about a family "kitchen table discussion." I posted a diary about it, Kitchen Table Discussion which didn't get much attention because it was about one red-state senator who had not gotten a DUI or been involved in a sex scandal. My story had a rich uncle, too.

    Here are some excerpts:
    Our "family" was running a nice annual surplus in 2001.  They chose to dramatically reduce their income (Bush tax cuts) without reducing spending. Soon after that, they spent huge sums of borrowed money on feuds with overseas relatives (Iraq and Afghanistan). No effort was made to increase their income to pay for the feuds.

    In 2008, a rich uncle went broke after making a series of dreadful investments. Our hypothetical family borrowed enormous sums of money from as far away as China, bailing out the once-rich uncle with loans at near-zero interest rates. The uncle, back on his feet and wealthy again, did not even say "thank you."

    As you might imagine, the response from Isakson involved crickets.

    •  Correct (0+ / 0-)

      Look at our current war debt. Contrast this with the portion of the budget that goes into actually rebuilding our economy -- from needed social services to widening access to higher education to actual (long term) job creation right here in the US. For the past couple of decades, the ONLY idea America has had is that of infrastructure work, jobs that overwhelmingly go to men, and are almost always of limited duration. Since Reagan, our govt. has effectively  given several trillion dollars to corporations for job creation... and apparently forgot to mention that those jobs need to be in the US.

  •  Let's not forget the cost most families have for (5+ / 0-)

    keeping a massive security force because we use violence to solve so many of our disputes.

    Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

    by lockewasright on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:50:32 AM PST

  •  How about the cousin operating a business... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    susanala, Dream It Real

    ...from our garage who won't pay rent cause he says his customers always coming and going deter burglars from targeting the family house?

    Or the neighborhood gas station who connected to the family electrical supply panel? Or the other neighbor, the bank, that the family take turns to fix their building every time there is a kitchen they started?

  •  you forgot to mention... (6+ / 0-)

    ....all the money the family has spent blowing up the neighbors just so the rich members of the family can use their yards for the resources on under them.

    And the money spen building a big fence just to keep other poorer neighbors from eating the steak.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:03:10 AM PST

  •  You're right. Simplistic, easy to visualize (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    concepts rarely reflect reality.

    Guns don't kill people...people with GUNS kill people.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:04:21 AM PST

  •  If Romney is the Family, the Analogy Works (3+ / 0-)

    Think of a family that is filthy rich: Romney, Gates, Jobs, etc.

    The family is so well off that it seems like they print money every day by doing nothing.  In Romney's case, the money printing is $20 million annually; Gates and Jobs are 10 times that at least.

    With all that money available and lenders around the world willing to loan you unlimited funds at less than 2% for 10 years with NO COLLATERAL,  why would you be worried about some debt that you could pay off at any time if you wanted to?

    You would be insane to worry about your debt at all especially when your "kids" are broke because they can't find jobs.

  •  Very nice. Well said. If it were a family budget (4+ / 0-)

    then I would picture a scenario where Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa were eating out at fine steak houses every night while telling the rest of the family to go on a diet.  It would be like me taking all of the family resources to go gamble while my children go work as janitors for Newt's private school.
    In reality (unless there are some serious dysfunctions happening), it looks more like Mom (me) skips normal and even necessary things like haircuts and dental care in order for the family to have decent meals and proper clothing.  It looks like scrapping for the simplest luxuries in life, like cable and internet and a more recent model vehicle, just so you feel like the hard labor is even worth it.  But with those simple luxuries (like fresh food and--oh my god!--orange juice) come bills.  And sometimes, like maybe once every 3-5 years, being really selfish and taking a 3 day trip to a waterpark with the kids instead of fixing the mess the broken sump line left in your back yard.
    If it worked anything like an actual family I think I may have filed for divorce and made the negligent parties pay child support.  

  •  Common sense? (3+ / 0-)

    My comment to someone who claims that it is just like balancing your checkbook is that if it were that easy, even an idiot like YOU could be an economist.  There are counterfactuals involved in macroecon that defy "common sense".  What is needed is "uncommon" sense during periods of depression and recession that are demand sided in nature.  If we all become austerians, a vicous rather than virtuous cycle is established.

  •  An instant classic. (4+ / 0-)

    I have no idea how columnists for Kos get distributed amongst the wider media, but if I were Laura, I'd make sure this column got delivered to any and every outlet in the US [or even the world.]

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:24:49 AM PST

  •  Furthermore... (10+ / 0-)

    Grandma and Grandpa, who worked to support Mom and Dad for many years, have a reasonable expectation that they will be given food, shelter and medical care, even though they aren't contributing to the family income anymore. Grumpy rich uncle wants to shove them out the door to free up their room (so he can rent it out to someone else and make some more money he won't share). Mom and Dad are resisting this, but it's getting harder and harder, because most of their money is going to pay for the military guards around the place.

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:25:11 AM PST

  •  funny families (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The family analogy is valid only insofar as a country owes money to other countries - this would be the amount of the credit-card debt, so the numbers in the example are just wrong.  The situation of the US (for example) is mostly that of a family in which members owe money to each other.  Our international debt is not a good thing, but to bring it under control would require very different measures from reducing internal national debt.  Also, the US "family" prints its own money. My family does not have this ability - does yours?

    •  Well, the people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      who argue the original point, that the fed gov is just like a family that should control its expenses, don't go into such details, which is why the original point resonates.

      IMO Laura presents a usable rebuttal scenario that is easily grasped, visualized, and memorable.

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:45:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  no the government is a business budget (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    no the government is  a business budget  not a family budget it is providing goods (planes ,roads , dams, bridges) and services (military, administration, law enforcement )to people

    Annual business income: $21,700
    Money business invested : $38,200
    New debt for future investment in the business: $16,500

    Outstanding balance in business: $142,710
    new revenue from customers: $38.50

    our products and services  are in high demand and in the past have had profits - we have just been charging way less for the products and services  then we should - we had a few bad CEO -who were not concern with long term health of business but the short term  to help line their pockets (with votes)

    we have been having a fire sale for 30 years and this bad business

    so you see while we might need to trim our expenses even more we need to increase prices .

    "Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative." - John Stuart Mill

    by smartone on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:25:54 AM PST

  •  Damn people (0+ / 0-)

    Just work til you die.

    The Soneji article takes no account of the known data that indicates that lower income workers have not shared in longevity gains.

    The article did float a trial balloon of ending retirement in America. Concern trolling of the highest order.

  •  And to top it all off (6+ / 0-)

    Boehner repeated the meme the other day that the debt is a $50,000 burden on every person in the country.

    I read similar BS frequently. But even just looking at the 2001 tax cuts:

    According to estimates by the Tax Policy Center -- a liberal-oriented institution, but one with a reputation for scrupulous accuracy -- the 2001 tax cut, once fully phased in, will deliver 42 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of the income distribution
    (This whole Krugman article from 2003 is worth reading)

    While the remaining 99% divvied up the remainder.

    So, using your household budget example, the rich uncle makes sure his huge bar tab and gambling debt get 'socialized' and the whole family splits it evenly. Then he has the gall to say, "look at all our debt! You people need to work harder and sacrifice more!"

  •  Excellent (6+ / 0-)

    When I try this one I take it back even further...

    OK Republicans, you want to compare the Federal budget to a family budget:

    - For eight years, crazy Uncle George was head of the family
    - Crazy uncle George went to his boss and voluntarily took a 15% pay cut
    - Then crazy uncle George started two very expensive fueds with two distant neighbors, and borrowed every penny to do so
    - Then crazy uncle George moved Grandma in the house and gave her nice stuff (Medicare Part D) - again borrowing every penny to do so
    - Then crazy uncle George refused for years any attempt to find more ways to pay for all these familty expenses - the debt started mounting
    - Then crazy uncle George screwed up at work, costing his company a ton of money (the banking fiasco and recession). His boss further cut his wages as a result. The family debt becomes unsustainable.
    - Then cousin Barack gets put in charge and starts to fix things at the company, ends the fueds, and goes to ask for a raise to pay for all the crap crazy uncle George did.
    - Cousin Barack is told no, you must instead stop feeding your kids, spend 100% of the college fund, throw grandma onto the street and find other ways to 'get by'.

    Stupid Republicans.


  •  Rich Uncle is also going batshit crazy and.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FlashfyreSP, OhioNatureMom

    Hypocritical, sending letters to the banks and spouting off to the other creditors that we won't be honoring the debts which he played an oversized role in having the household accumulate.  And he has the gall to say that his destructiveness is about keeping family debt levels down...

  •  Somebody should take an accounting course (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FlashfyreSP, OhioNatureMom, Val

    I suppose FB doesn't require professional qualifications to post.

    The income statement (Revenues - Expenses = Net Income or Loss) isn't the whole story. It is one of the fundamental accounting reports that attempts to answer the question: How well are we doing?

    The FB person noted overall outstanding debt. Well borrowing requires at least two parties to agree to a loan. Lenders look at the borrower's assets. Those assets aren't just the property, they can be cash, machines, event the expected income that will be earned in the future.

    So there's the second fundamental accounting report called the Balance Sheet (Assets = Liabilities + Owners' Equity)

    The outstanding debt isn't anywhere near the value of the house and other assets. Such a large house, even in a real estate recession, is worth millions more than the loans outstanding.

    Furthermore, it has never been a better time to borrow because interest rates are low, some so low that they have a negative interest rate when you take inflation into account. There are times to borrow now to make the future more prosperous.

    However, the original writer implies this is debt that came for the wrong reasons, like not paying for a couple of wars. Alright we get it. That means that 47% folks who voted for that foolishness at the last family meeting should examine their conscience. Look in the mirror and say "Never again". Feeling better?

    But the writer is wrong about another implication. This isn't anywhere near the interest rate of 18% to 24% that would be expected with a credit card. Time to get some financial advice folks.

    But the occupants with money, and there are lots more than that miserable uncle, have stuffed their cash in mattresses, buried their gold coins in jars in the yard. Some of them are trying to sneak their money off the property without anyone else knowing. That young man who would like to grow his business larger than the capacity of the garage, knows down in the south and in the east wings some of the older relatives have become timid and frightened. He'd like to have access to some of their cash, either borrowing or preferably entering into some business ownership arrangement with those who have the dough. He can see the money is just sitting there, unused, waiting to be invested, but the established players just don't want to invest. So the brother with the calloused hands stands their cap in hand staring at the Benjamins peeking out from the overstuffed cushions on the brocaded wing chairs as he's lectured about learning to make do just as they did "back in my day".

    Yes there's a kind of ongoing blood feud going on in the house, as though a Hatfield had married a McCoy. Maybe it was a shotgun wedding.

    Let's hope Papa can find a way to make everyone a little more prosperous and maybe they'll be a little more happy.

    Hey uncle Mitt seems to have left. And his room empty. Do you think he's gone to Cayman?

  •  This BS was being spread on CNBC (7+ / 0-)

    Some CEO rich guy pretending to be smart.

    The fail in all this is simple.  If you're a fictional household with these numbers:

    Annual family income: $21,700
    Money the family spent: $38,200
    New debt on the credit card: $16,500
    Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
    Budget cuts so far: $38.50

    Chances are you're declaring bankruptcy.  

    But lets say you don't.  With an annual income of only $21,700 you've already cut to the bone.  You're not talking about spending money on trivial things.  You're juggling between paying for housing, paying for heat and electricity, buying food and some clothes.  The problem isn't that you haven't cut enough, it's that you lost your job and had to settle for a shit job at Home Depot and lost all the income you used to make before some rich bastard like Mitt Romney got a bit too greedy and tanked the company you worked for and drove it into bankruptcy while making billions off the deal.  Meanwhile your expenses are $38,200 because prior to losing your job you were making well over $50,000 and were living comfortably.  You already cut cable and internet and going out but you simply cannot cut anymore.  That mortgage payment isn't going away even if your job and income did.  Those student loans your child raked up trying to get a better education aren't going away even if any prospect of earning a decent living after they graduate did.

    So what do you do?  Do you shut off the lights maybe throw on a few more blankets at night?  Eat Ramen noodles and Spam?  Shop at the Salvation Army and visit the soup kitchens?  Default on your mortgage and walk away?    

    No you do what anyone else would do.  Get a second job.  Maybe put in some extra time in if you can at your job.  Your spouse gets a job/second job.  Maybe your child becomes a server at Red Lobster.  In other words YOU INCREASE YOUR REVENUE!!!  You all chip in and make more money.

    That's the problem with these stupid analogies.  All these rich assholes who never had to fucking budget think about is poor people spending too much and how they should cut.  The government already DID cut.   Infact our annual budget has remained relatively flat for a few years now and there are plenty of additional cuts in store when the wars finally wind down.  Any further cuts and you risk driving the economy further down the hole.  Before you know it that annual income will go under $20,000 a year and the cuts you make won't match the additional lost income.  Europe has learned that lesson the hard way.  

    So what's a government supposed to do in times like this? RAISE REVENUE.  How do you raise revenue without running the risk of tanking the economy even more like they did in Europe?  Well one way would be to invest.  You take out a loan and start up a new company that will allow you to make more money and pay back the loans.  As far as the government that would mean investing in the economy, creating jobs either directly (preferred) or indirectly, improving the infrastructure and so on.  In the long run those investments will pay themselves off and then some.  Your revenue will increase and over time your debt will decrease as you pay it down.  

    Another option is you tax the people who have so much money they don't spend it all.  People who instead of spending and putting the money back into circulation actually take money OUT of circulation by parking it in Swiss bank accounts or accounts in the Cayman Islands.  You use that money to balance your books or investing it in the economy to increase your revenue over the long run.  It's only logical that if tax cuts for rich had no real effect on growth in 12 years then tax increase should have no real impact.  The big mistake countries in Europe made was that they applied across the board tax increases.   You take money out of the hands of people who spend 100% of it and you're directly taking money out of the economy.  Doesn't take a fucking genius to see that.   But if you take it out of the hands of Mitt Romney who has an extra $100 million sitting in an IRA account doing nothing, then it won't have any negative effect on the economy.    

    Unfortunately the GOP and the so called intelligent thinkers on the right are anything BUT intelligent.  You would think intelligent business people would be the LAST ONES advocating for cuts in our government that will affect the middle class adversely and take money out of their pockets.  By doing that you're taking money out of the economy which means THEIR businesses will make less money.  But too many of these assholes are so fucking rich they don't have the slightest fucking clue how to balance a budget at home let alone the government.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:38:19 AM PST

    •  THIS. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Another option is you tax the people who have so much money they don't spend it all.  People who instead of spending and putting the money back into circulation actually take money OUT of circulation by parking it in Swiss bank accounts or accounts in the Cayman Islands.  You use that money to balance your books or investing it in the economy to increase your revenue over the long run.  It's only logical that if tax cuts for rich had no real effect on growth in 12 years then tax increase should have no real impact.  The big mistake countries in Europe made was that they applied across the board tax increases.   You take money out of the hands of people who spend 100% of it and you're directly taking money out of the economy.  Doesn't take a fucking genius to see that.   But if you take it out of the hands of Mitt Romney who has an extra $100 million sitting in an IRA account doing nothing, then it won't have any negative effect on the economy.
      {Thunderous applause}

      Not to mention there are lots of ways to raise revenue, beyond even income taxes.  Start with a financial transaction tax; let Wall Street start pulling its own weight.

  •  Just wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    There is a very real question of whether the rich relations are paying what they should pay -- absolutely, but...

    the rich relations in the case of the country are paying more than everybody else in terms of dollars per-capita.  Far more than people in the middle, even though the present tax structure unfairly burdens those in the middle, and certainly more than those at the bottom.  Mitt Romney is a great example of why this particular comparison is inapt:
     He only paid about a 14% overall federal income tax rate, barely more than the 12% the rest of us pay on every dollar we earn to cover Social Security taxes (including the so-called employer's share). On the other hand, he paid nearly $2 million dollars, far more than most of us make, let alone pay in taxes.

    You are, however, completely correct about looking only at the expenditure side of the balance.  It's especially galling because the people who want to make this comparison are the same folks who would probably be telling somebody in this family to work two jobs.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:38:52 AM PST

    •  This is why it's so galling! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac, OhioNatureMom, FlashfyreSP

      If Romney and company were paying their fair share, it would make a real difference!  Romney's $2 million should have been $5,000,000 in a progressive tax system.

      Should the most profitable companies in the US get a discount because they pay so much in taxes?  NO!  They are precisely the ones who can most afford it.

      Should Walmart get a sales tax break when they locate in your town.  NO!  It's un-American to give them a competitive advantage over mom & pop stores -- and counterproductive to the region as a whole.

      Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

      by Helpless on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:59:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know what his fair share should be, but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OhioNatureMom, FlashfyreSP

        it sure as hell shouldn't work out to be LESS than those folks in the middle class who have to pay both income taxes  PLUS 12% on every true gross dollar (paycheck gross + "employers' share" = true gross) they make.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:01:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would include (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    all the infrastructure as part of the house. The debt would partly be the mortgage on that.
    The comparison to a house budget could stand, kind of, only in the framework presented by our author and added on by everyone of us, not the pick and choose limited one we see everywhere.

  •  When was the last time the head of any family (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ever professed "worry" that the family would run out of debt?

    That's what the 2001 Head of the American Family (President George Bush) confessed worry about back in 2001...

    "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire. " -- President George W. Bush
    Our Head of the Family then went about enacting policies to eliminate any such worrisome lack-of-debt situations.

    Obama and the Dems in Congress should never let a day go by without mentioning this.

  •  And every year for thirty years- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Dad has been offered a higher paying job, and he refused to take it.

  •  The debt is like a piano suspended 5 stories above (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's hanging on a thread of historically low interest rates.  If they were to rise before the economy recovers we'd be in deep doodoo.  

    Big deficits are good for us as it tends to devalue the dollar, making it easier for us to sell products overseas.  (The Chinese, however, have pegged their currency to ours.)  The Koch brothers don't like big deficits because it devalues their coal deposits.  So overall, big deficits are good as long as we can get away with them.

    However,the Chinese have already lowered our credit rating. And domestic rating agencies are threatening to follow suit.  If our investors find somewhere else to put their money (say Chinese bonds?  If the Chinese were to unpeg their currency, their bonds would look awfully good.), servicing our debt will be much more of a problem.  It is a risk we should not ignore.

    However, why is it Democrats have let Republicans frame this debate entirely?  Tax rates are at historic lows, even after restoring the top rate to 39%.  Why not put this discussion in historical terms?  When America has gone to war in the past, top rates were raised to the 90% range.  39% may be a symbolic victory for Democrats, but historically, it's still a big win for the Koch brothers and their ilk.

    And why are Democrats unwilling to talk big cuts to defense?  One war is over.  The other will be soon.  It's time talk about restructuring our armed forces for the post war environment.  Let's hope that will be Hagel's job (if he can get approved).

    Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

    by Helpless on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:46:56 AM PST

  •  personally can't compare but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we are diligently working on it.

    The figures I had at some point recently, and subsequently wrote an article last year for a mag, which I NO LONGER have the links for..
    are scary as hell:

    "Consumer credit climbed more than forecast in May, led by the biggest jump in credit-card debt in almost five years that may signal Americans are struggling to make ends meet. The $17.1 billion increase, exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the largest this year, followed a $9.95 billion gain the previous month that was more than previously estimated, the Federal Reserve said today in Washington. Revolving credit, which includes credit card spending, rose by $8 billion, the most since November 2007.

    American borrowers currently owe more than $150 billion in private student loans, according to the report. Default rates soared in the years since the financial crisis, and more than
    d$8 billion in private loans are in default.
    In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1 percent of US income earners captured 93 percent of the income growth."


    People who say they don't care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don't care what people think. -George Carlin

    by downtownLALife on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:48:34 AM PST

  •  Especially after we've BAILED OUT our rich (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FlashfyreSP, OhioNatureMom

    relatives. The rich/upper income-earners benefitted disproportionately from the Wall-Street bailouts (which propped up the stock market), because they own (a lot) more stock/real-estate. Nobody wants to talk about taxing the countless trillions we gave to Wall-Street (i.e. the biggest government rescue in US history).

  •  What we need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Condense this down to the size of a Facebook post, and we might have something.

    (Sadly, that's the trouble with liberal arguments these days; they don't fit nicely into tweets or Facebook posts.)

  •  the always left out line item on the budget (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OhioNatureMom, FlashfyreSP, fallina7

    seems there is always,always one item on the budget no one ever includes:


    where is the budget line for everything that credit card
    has purchased?

    Where is the tally of government/er family assets?  the buildings,
    the cars, trucks, tanks, missils, rockets, etc. etc. etc.

    Where is the tally for pensions, savings accounts, bank accounts?

    Where is the sum of desks, chairs, calculators, computers.known as personal property?

    Where is the value of our family land, our parks, our roads and bridges.

    and if you really really want to treat the government as a family budget - where is the value of our good name? our credit rating, our expertise, our value to the community?

  •  Great dairy, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:06:16 AM PST

  •  Most families have a mortgage as "debt" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That counts as "debt" but it also represents an asset. We have a national debt, but it is dwarfed by the national assets we hold in common. So if you owe $142,000 in your household debt but you own a $250,000 house, it's not really exactly a financial crisis.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:09:27 AM PST

    •  But that asset won't buy you food (0+ / 0-)

      Or keep the heat on, unless you liquidate it.

      Carrying that idea further, perhaps the nation needs to start selling off its assets to raise the cash: a few parks to the developers for more gated communities, a stretch of highway or two, the Lincoln Memorial to some private collector, the odd aircraft carrier or destroyer we don't need(wait, we already do that, never mind), and so on. Priced right, we could raise a lot of money for the bills from our own "makers" who have nothing better to spend their money on than "national tchotchkes".

      Call it the USA's Yard Sale - One Person's Trash is Another Person's Treasure.

      "Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati" - Red Green

      by FlashfyreSP on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:43:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Families are communist organizations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From each according to their ability (everyone's income is included in the family income).

    To each according to their need (you don't let little Billie starve while Uncle Fester feasts on his steak).

    Centrally controlled (Typically a committee of two, with maybe a couple of side-members who can contribute ideas but who aren't part of the final decision making process).

    So, if people seriously want government to operate like a family then they better damn well give up on the idea of democracy because the two are not compatible.

  •  Families at least can negotiate with creditors (0+ / 0-)

    If a family only had an income of $21K and debt of almost $160K, a bankruptcy court would let them have a fresh start.

    They might have to sell off their assets, but they would probably get to keep their most important asset, their home (what would a Homestead Act look like for the Federal Gov't).

    Creditors recognizing that families have these rights are willing to negotiate, and families have meaningful opportunities to restructure debt.

    I don't buy the Federal Gov't is like a family analogy, but the logical conclusion if you buy into this analogy is to restructure your debt.

    You don't eat cat food for the next twenty years.

    At some point you stop paying your debt.  Lenders understand that not all loans will be paid.  And every deadbeat knows the saying, 'You can't suck blood from a stone!'

  •  So... if the microcosm thing holds true, (0+ / 0-)

    and the U.S. Budget pie chart percentages are reasonably accurate,... each American individual or family budget should reflect an approximately 50% expenditure on guns, ammo, guard dogs, electric fences, 'Black Ops' stuff, surveillance gizmos, plus (for Generals only) private jet, golf course, swimming pool and mistress maintenance etc.
    Something like that, right?

  •  I'm thinking those who (0+ / 0-)

    had the tree go through their roof must have been displeasing God somehow ;)

    FORWARD! Obama/Biden 2012

    by Esjaydee on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:45:32 AM PST

  •  Billionaire Carly Fiorina in on Meet, WHY? (0+ / 0-)

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up !

    by Churchill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:48:04 AM PST

  •  Gingrich, Simpson&Bowles on Meet. Why? (0+ / 0-)

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up !

    by Churchill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:49:23 AM PST

  •  Sen.McConnell wouldn't take debt hostage off table (0+ / 0-)

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up !

    by Churchill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:50:51 AM PST

  •  It's not bad as a simple example if it helps (0+ / 0-)

    people understand a principle. I'm guessing everyone understands how that works in their real lives. The problem is that the nation, unlike a family, can print money to pay it's bills. It doesn't really have to raise taxes to pay its debts as a family would have to increase its income to support its' members: even the rich Uncle who is the moocher in your example.

    Of course after awhile its' money would be worthless in the world market, but as is the case with us today, we are still getting along. 99% of us are pre-funding our retirements, our college educations and our healthcare. Even the 1% do that with their own families. It is only our Government that doesn't pre-fund for wars or bank bailouts because it can print money to pay for those things if it wants.

    So far the Government has only done that to bail out the banks for the crash of '08, but it could do the same in other areas of the debt and it wouldn't have cut services to do it either. It could raise the money by taxing the wealthy more plus print more money to provide the necessary services. There is really no reason for cutting the budget of services at all unless it is to correct for too much spending in the defense budget etc.

  •  Missed one big one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FlashfyreSP, fallina7, Val

    Great analysis, but missed a big one, and one which has me especially annoyed at the "family budget" metaphor.

    Times were pretty good, about 10 years ago.  The rich uncle decided that, since we'd been so successful, he was going to semi-retire and go on many successful vacations.  So at the same time his income dropped, he racked up some huge bills on the family credit card.  Reagan proved credit card debts don't matter! he assured us.

    Then the idiot went and wrecked the family car, took out parts of the house in the process.  So we dug out the credit card again for the repairs.  And we need more repairs for what this idiot did.  Indeed, while this idiot controlled the family purse, he put off routine maintenance and investments, so we have all kinds of work we should be doing, with the roof threatening to cave in any minute.  

    But this asshole is suddenly high and mighty about incurring debt, insists that we can only pay for a new car and roof and deferred maintenance by taking the money out of our retirement fund or food budget.

  •  Families cannot print money (0+ / 0-)

    So, the analogy breaks down on step one.  

    In addition, if you look at the family budget outlined here and use a notion like 'mortgage' or 'line of credit' instead of 'credit card', it is easy to see that the budget is not utterly unmanageable.  A family taking in 40k with a mortgage of 200k would put up numbers much like those above if they have a bad year (one spouse out of work) and have to extend a credit card for a year.  

    They need more income, but things are working out for now.

    Of course, it would be easier for them if they could just print money...

    The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

    by not2plato on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:41:02 AM PST

  •  Macroeconomics (0+ / 0-)

    The family also cannot print its own money, sell bonds or Treasury bills, control interest rates, control inflation... which a nation with a sovereign currency can do.

  •  Nothing worse (0+ / 0-)

    than the "kitchen table" argument as a purported analog to macroeconmics.

  •  tax cuts and credits are spending (0+ / 0-)

    fix the analogy by listing all special interest business welfare as spending.

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:52:44 AM PST

  •  Families can't print money. Government can. (0+ / 0-)

    It's not pretty but inflation can adjust the debts and if the government prints money there would be turmoil but not the end of the world.  Besides, as you note this is a made up problem.  

  •  What would Republicans have to say (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about a household that cheerfully buys things on its credit card, then threatens not to pay when the bill comes in?

    That's exactly what Republicans are threatening to do on the debt ceiling.

  •  There's a major different to take into account. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otto Pilot

    In a household, the number of payers is relatively constant (absent marriage, death, etc).  The conversation is about who pays and how much.  In an economy, the name of the game is movement of money.  The more it moves, the more players there are in the game.  If the government decides to build a road, they hire a bunch of people.  The people pay taxes.  They buy pizza, they go to the movies, and the buy clothes for their kids.  All of those businesses get to hire a few more workers, who also get to do all of those things.

    Money might seem finite in the context of a family, but it is not in an economy.  The economy is either growing or contracting.  All of these decisions really just impact how fast and whether things will continue to grow.  Austerity has a contracting effect.  With wages tighter and fewer working, less cash moves through the economy.  Fewer pizza workers.  Fewer theater employees.  Fewer retail clerks.  It's as simple as that.

  •  I thought you were going to go for (0+ / 0-)

    The parent with the checkbook always paying attention to the bratty, whiny, crabby kid who keeps on insisting that buying food and shelter for the rest of the family is the same thing as buying them toys that he's jealous of.

    Fake candidates nominated by the GOP for the recalls: 6 out of 7. Fake signatures on the recall petitions: 4 out of 1,860,283.

    by GeoffT on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:33:29 AM PST

  •  Very nice, Laura... (0+ / 0-)

    ... but if you're going to take on every right-wing lie that gets perpetuated as a Facebook "share", then that will become your full-time occupation.  It's like playing whack-a-mole.  

    I assume that the VRWC urges its sheeple to spread those lies on Facebook, and that's what they're all over the place.

    Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

    by MJB on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:37:06 AM PST

  •  Economics of Country vs family (0+ / 0-)

    I would take a entirely different tack in the attempt to discuss a country budget as if it were a family budget. I think it is a mistake to buy into the idea that there is any useful analogy here at all.

    Instead, I would respond to the person (here I'm not thinking the diary author for whom I have great respect but presumably some conservative who thought they were onto some clever argument) questions in the following way:

    OK, you say that the budget/economics of a country are just like those of a family and emphasize how important it is to plan for the future. Then, of course, we need to think a LOT about what happens to our family (country) when the parents (??) get old and either die or need round the clock care. So, you must think that our country needs to have a will. You don't? Why are you complaining that it makes no sense for a country to have a will? It was your analogy!  

    This is just one of many absurd conclusions about the supposedly helpful analogy between the finances of a country and a family that one can raise when an annoying conservative thinks they can use the analogy to make some 'telling' point.

  •  huge problem with the debt as "credit card" debt.. (0+ / 0-)

      I pay ten times the rate the Fed does for my credit card vs. the nation's credit, and that's at a decent rate.
       So, if you want to compare financing costs, that $142,700 "credit card balance" costs less than a home loan of the same size; quite a manageable situation, even for a modest household, and in comparison to a personal unsecured line of credit, it costs about what a $14,000 dollar credit card bill would run.  That is worrisome, but not "sky-is-falling" material, by far.

  •  Krugman as a young Antoine de Saint Exupery (0+ / 0-)

      To wit:
       Exupery's narrator's description in "The Little Prince" of his first drawing of a boa constrictor that swallowed an elephant, and how it failed to register with grownups.
       Now we have a federal government that has swallowed a massive financial crisis, and almost universally the "grown-up" economists fail to see the ensuing bloat for what it is: a massive process of the government digesting a massive recession.  Instead, they all want to kill the government and cut the recession free to roam the land, unchecked.

  •  An even easier analogy... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GeoffT, Otto Pilot

    is to focus on that $21700.  "The reason the family income is $21700 and not $38000 is that Daddy asked for a pay cut thirty years ago, and another one ten years ago. The money the company gained for his pay cut went to increase the CEO's salary. Daddy could get a raise just by asking for one, but he won't because he says the company he works for needs to keep the money."

  •  Speaking of their budget.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why are they spending all that money on their alarm system? And what's up with all those guns they keep buying?

  •  A Family Budget Analogy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity. -- Alvy Ray Smith

    by John Q on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:03:24 PM PST

  •  a better analogy might be... (0+ / 0-)

    ... that the family makes all of its money on investment income. Unfortunately right now most of the investments are only paying around 1% since the economy is so bad, but fortunately the family can issue IOUs to its members and to other families at a rate of .25%. With that money it can invest a bit more and maybe bump up the yield a bit on its investments.

  •  Can't they sell that stupid uncle (0+ / 0-)

    on eBay?

    There is nothing more exciting than the truth. - Richard P. Feynman

    by pastol on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:32:32 PM PST

  •  I responded to some 'friends' posting (0+ / 0-)

    this as well. Needless to say, I was soundly thumped as a loon (in their eyes) by dismissive comments. Still, I continue to hope that one day, one of these friends in name only, will realize that sharing crap like this does nothing except delude people. It deludes them into thinking the govt should run like a business(or family budget in this case) and that treating a small 1% cut as only a 1% cut. That 1% = millions of people affected.

    Thanks for the diary. I was tempted to make one as well, but alas I did not. My moniker tends to push folks away (partly my intent to see who judges me) and my writing abilities are admittedly much weaker than others' here.

    I think people should be allowed to do anything they want. We haven't tried that for a while. Maybe this time it'll work. -George Carlin

    by CentristandProud on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:05:57 PM PST

  •  The US is a currency issuer and no one should ever (0+ / 0-)

    compare a family budget to the federal budget unless they live in a household that is also a currency issuer.  

    When I hear anyone use this cute but simple-minded analogy I know it's time for "currency issuer talk."

    The immediate challenge is always going to be an objection to printing money and printing more money and then printing more money.

    The answer to that is a handy fact:  the US has paid off over $16 trillion worth of debt in the first three months of fiscal year 2013 which began on October 1.  All debt is scheduled and when it reaches maturity 100% of the principal amount the government borrowed is repaid to the holder.  I won't allow anyone to rant about borrowing and spending without making them repeat after me:  the US paid off in full $16 trillion worth of debt in just the last three months.  

    "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

    by leftreborn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:58:50 PM PST

  •  The 'family budget' POV is actually .... (0+ / 0-)

    pro progressive tax and wealth-distribution since the family members who make more, pay more and help out the ones who don't make as much, so point out how "socialistic" this approach is.

    The family budget approach also falls apart because if all families cut their spending this will be a huge cut in businesses income and thus lead to more employment, less growth etc ... I would love to see a case where any of these morons using the "family budget" memo were asked if they would be OK if one of the areas the family decided to cut was spending on THEIR business (since across the board cut is impossible in a family budget since rent, food, utilities have to be addressed) ... this is a hallmark of these fools; they think the downside wouldn't effect them


  •  Plus crazy Uncle Bob (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    who lives in the basement keeps taking the food money and spending it on more guns.....

    Still trying to think of something thought-provoking and/or hilarious for this space.

    by LuLu on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:17:52 PM PST

  •  Cutting can't go on forever (0+ / 0-)

    When a family can levy a tax on the rest of the neighborhood, then maybe there's reason to talk.

    But in the meantime, there's no direct comparison between a household budget and a government budget-- I'm so tired of the Conservative angle on it and, sadly, a lot of people I otherwise agree with politically fall for this a LOT.

    And as noted in the post, wouldn't the best thing be to make more money? How does that never enter these Conservative memes? At some point you hit the bottom and you still owe those bills -- cutting can't go on forever. That's practically Obama's angle on this too -- we have to pay for the shit we've already been billed for.

  •  Thanks for this diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grabber by the Heel, brillig

    A FB friend shared the household item, and I posted a link (without comment) to this diary.  He took down the link shortly afterward.

    "Everybody has won, and all must have prizes." - Lewis Carroll

    by Dave1955 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:48:36 PM PST

  •  Governments are not corporations or families. (0+ / 0-)

    It is impossible to have a national conversation when corporations, politicians, and the press make facts up, to obscure reality and confuse the citizens with so much bunkum that it is impossible to employ critical thinking to our problems even if you can critically think.

    David Gregory can't believe he does anything but lead a false trail to keep people lost in the woods so they can't interfere with the robbery of their country and future.  

    I thought the "I'm gonna run the government like a business" idiocy was the limit, but now we're going to run government like Old Man Potter in a Ward Cleaver mask.  

  •  And Uncle has $500K in the bank he's not sharing (0+ / 0-)

    Even not counting what he has stashed away in foreign banks -  total U.S. wealth is something like $58 trillion, of which 35% belongs to the top 1% and another half of it belongs to the next 19% - leaving only fifteen percent of all wealth for the bottom 50%.  

    But somehow none of that gets counted into the family budget.

  •  I just had to lay off my border patrol (0+ / 0-)

    And that personal ICBM I was going to purchase will have to wait until next year when I finish paying for the exit ramp to my street. Yeah. It makes lots of sense to compare the US budget to a household budget.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:31:44 PM PST

  •  Burn the house down (0+ / 0-)

    I wrote something similar once on another blog - here is how I see comparing it to a family budget -

    they purchased a new house about 40 years ago...started saving money for retirement....
    but now the house needs some fixing...the porch is leaning and the roof is leaking when it rains hard,
    bathroom renovations and a room addition are needed too but they could wait.....but the kids need shoes, clothes and the little one needs glasses and an
    operation...the parents are both working and recently took a pay cut because of the they got second jobs to pay for the needed repairs and medical
    expenses, food, utilities, etc...grandma just moved in too because she is now retired and needs a little help....her pension was lost in a corporate take over...

    the brother in law is a boarder over the garage and ten years ago they lowered his rent because
    they were doing pretty well...for TEN YEARS the brother in law has had cheap rent and has been able to accumulate a large savings the family told him they needed to raise his rent....they were doing everything they could to make ends meet but it was no longer possible to give him reduced rent....they were no longer doing well and had to have extra money to cover the bills...

    The brother in law became indignant and told them if they tried to raise his rent he would burn the house down...then he told them to cut more services for the kids and
    grandma and not to bother him again or he would burn the house compromise....he was not going to pay anything more and as a matter of fact he decided he wanted a lower rent again....he needed a new car and saw no reason why he spend his money for the new payments...they owed it to him...lower his rent again or he would burn the house down....

  •  Wrong. Dead wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    Your idea of "increasing income" in this example is the equivalent of going to your neighbors house and stealing their money to pay your bills.

    You do NOT have the right to other people's money.  

    Just like this burglar would go to jail, so should the people who use government force to take from others.

    •  Sorry, no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      See above.

      It's not "other people's money."  It's what every citizen owes as a condition of living in a civilized country.  As I pointed out above, the Constitution provides for taxation at the federal level (article 1 section 8; 16th amendment); therefore, taxes are lawful.  Burglary is not.  If you think all taxes are unlawful, feel free to start a movement to amend the Constitution to take the taxing and spending power away from Congress.

      Fail.  Go away.  Your posts are transparent nonsense.

      •  wrong x2 (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, the gov't can tax.  

        But it cannot suppress individual liberty by bullying minorities with a majority vote.

        Just like a majority shouldn't be able to suppress the indiviual liberties of gays & their right to marriage...  

        The majority shouldn't be able to dictate which individuals have to reduce their quality of life (pay more taxes) on behalf of others.

        The rich are a minority under attack, and have the same rights as anyone else.  

        Seriously, this country was founded upon principles of limiting the governments ability to infringe upon peoples individual rights.   Open up you're eyes... you're no better than the gay bashers on the right.

  •  That Facebook post (0+ / 0-)

    is pooping up everywhere. I really like some of the comments here debunking it. Could we take the best ideas and make a blanket response to the post?

    Something like:
     Cut your family budget more, and you will still be living below poverty level (austerity budgeting decreases economic growth).
    First, it looks like you need to primarily increase your income to pay off the bills you racked up (economic stimulus and tax reform). You have not had a raise for 30 years: time to do something about that. Increasing income and reducing expenditures would be a balanced approach to solving your financial problems. Be smart about it- don't turn off your heat and burn your furniture.
    Next, I'm not sure why you let your rich uncle live with you and only pay 10% of the rent when everyone else in the house pays 25%. He uses your toilet paper and electricity, but lectures you to eat beans while he is cooking his steak with your gas (income disparity and corporate tax issues). He's also been spending a lot on his gun collection these last 10 years which he sneaks into your stack of bills each month (bloated defense spending).
    Your credit card debt is certainly alarming, but isn't that from that drinking binge you went on a while back- the one where you started some fights and burned some places down? If you had spent that on a house or a business start-up, it wouldn't be so worrisome.
    Now the investment in sending your kids to college is 'good debt' that will pay off later. Also, it would be wise to invest in a little home repair now and not let that roof leak do further damage (infrastructure.) Since your credit card company has reduced its interest rate to zero, you would be smart to take advantage of that deal now.
    Also, do not let your home or health insurance lapse because the costs of those unexpected events could be devastating. I know it seems like a good way to save money today, but the cost tomorrow will ruin you.
    Finally, do NOT listen to your Uncle. He thinks you should cut your income to balance your budget. He also wants you to hire an armed guard. He is nuts.
    But really, household microeconomics are not analogous to government macroeconomics. The two are not the same.

  •  family budget (0+ / 0-)

    This discussion is all well and good, but the real reason family budgets and the federal budget are not in any way analogous is taught in Econ 101. Families (and states) can't print money, but the feds can.  If the feds do to much of that when the economy is near full employment, we get inflation.  During a recession, however, it leads to increasing employment and prosperity.  It has to do with the money supply.

    Most people have no concept at all that there is something called the money supply because the "news" media never mentions it.

  •  What America did (0+ / 0-)

    America took his paycheck and blew it on a party to impress his buddies while his children go hungry.

  •  Worth mentioning that the "credit card debt" is (0+ / 0-)

    taken at historically low interest rates, so better to fix the leaking roof and decaying siding (read: decrepit roads, bridges, etc.) now instead of later.

  •  Comparing government spending to a family (0+ / 0-)

    budget is one of the most disingenuous, lamest things conservative politicians have ever done.  Umm, do their families survive on taxes collected from their kids?   And where is my weekly allowance from Uncle Sam?  It's.  Just. Stupid.

  •  Excellent! I need (0+ / 0-)

    to memorize that entire diary for future use with my rich, Republican relatives.

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