Tue, Oct 24, 2017 08:22 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Smile Awhile

Not in a billion years

02/01/2008 - In an effort to stimulate spending, President Bush has offered tax incentives to millions of middle-class Americans by way of a $600 per person allotment to jump-start our declining economy. I don't know how he came up with that figure, but I think someone must have told him that's apparently the same amount you can earn without paying taxes on it.

Anyway, I was sure glad to hear about the extra money he'll be sending our way around May so that I can spend it on something useful like groceries, utilities, and incidentals such as deodorant and toothpaste. I suppose I can put the rest in a Christmas fund.

In his State of the Union Address, the President also said that he thought that if Americans had to balance their budgets, the American government should follow suit and balance their budget, too. As long as I can remember, balancing the country's budget has been an on-coming concern. According to political analysts (or whoever reports the news) it could have been done if only the Republicans and the Democrats had agreed upon a plan years ago. However, the plan would have involved reducing spending and you can't get a congressional raise if you curtail cost-of-living increases.

Of course, the government isn't entirely responsible for our flagging economy, the American public holds some responsibility because of our erratic spending on things such as homes, cars, education, and healthcare; but I can't actually remember that costing anywhere near a billion dollars since the average person doesn't make that much money in a lifetime. (Hah!)

I can remember the first time I heard about the budget deficit that was plaguing us, and it was the first time I had ever heard the BILLION word.. It was around 1970 and a BILLION dollars then was too much money for a youngster to comprehend,. (It still staggers the imagination). But last week, my brother-in-law, Jim Blair, put it all in perspective for me when I received an e-mail defining exactly what a billion dollars was and what it could do. The results are almost incomprehensible. Here goes:

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casual manner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1974.

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

D. A billion days ago no one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes at the rate our government is spending it.

With this thought in mind, consider that Louisiana Senator, Mary Landnew (D), is presently asking the Congress for $250 billion dollars to rehabilitate from the devastating effects of Katrina. It's an interesting number, but what does it mean?

Well, if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, child), each of you would get $516,528. Or, if you had one of the 188, 251 homes in New Orleans, each home would get $1,329, 787. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.

And that's approximately what I owe on credit cards.

After careful consideration, I think that $600 will come in handy because it will come about the time they publish the delinquent tax lists in the paper, and I hate seeing my name on it.

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