Excess Tax $ -- Why not Earmark it for Y2K Contingency Planning?

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Last night, the nearest big town had a meeting to ask the community what the city council should do with their (our) share of the surplus in the Federal budget from taxes.

Two folks from our (very small) town attended. After music teachers asked for $ for a band and everyone with a personal grievance asked for a better roadway or entrance to their business, our two town representatives gave highlights from the Senate report and made the suggestion that the surplus should be directed into Y2K awareness and preparedness programs.

Surprise! Well received, and multiple requests for business cards, information, etc.

Anyone else considered trying this -- or tried this? Results? I'll keep you posted.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@ptd.net), March 19, 1999


Thanks Sara.

Looking forward to your updates.

-- Watchful (seethesea@msn.com), March 19, 1999.

Sorry Sara. The federal government just projected your town's share of the federal surplus to be $1.06. (They had a lot of expenses in administrating the surplus...):-)

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 19, 1999.


That's because Koskinen was the "filter", I suppose?

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@ptd.net), March 19, 1999.

You BELIEVE the government that there is a surplus. WAKE UP! Idiots.

Social Security -- which is supposed to be separate -- has a surplus, supposedly. And so the government includes that figure in its GENERAL figures.

If any corporation cooked the books like the government does, all the top officers would be in fricking JAIL!

-- A (A@AisA.com), March 20, 1999.

There is no surplus.

The national debt increased last year by nearly $115 billion. WAKE UP! The government is lying to us through the media, and the media passes it along, intact and then some.

The national debt has already increased by another $130 billion this year, and we are not even half way through the fed.gov's current fiscal year. WAKE UP!

Can you say prevarication? I knew you could.

-- Nathan (nospam@all.com), March 20, 1999.


-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 20, 1999.

I'm trying to understand this accounting trick called the "budget surplus." How well does this analogy work? -

Mr. Jones decides to budget his expenses for next month. He budgets that he will have to spend $6,000 next month - and this is where the lie starts. It's an accounting trick because he knows that he's starting with an inflated figure. But he has all kinds of grand plans and reasons that sound good to put down the $6,000 in the budget. In reality, he knows that he really only must spend $4,000. Sure enough when the month is up, he has spent $4,000. At which point he declares, "See? I have a budget surplus of $2,000!"

He could do the above magic regardless of the amount of his income stream. All he has to do is budget for more, and spend less.

And besides, this ignores the fact that Mr. Jones is $100,000 in debt.

I made it purposely simple, but it can't be this simple. Can we refine this analogy a little better? I think I'm missing something.

-- Debbie (dbspence@usa.net), March 20, 1999.

I've noticed that these 'surpluses' are never for *this* year, these are always projections of future surpluses. And these projections always make nice optimistic assumptions like full payment of taxes (no cheating), a continuing economic boom, no changes in spending rates, no changes in tax laws, continued 'borrowing' from Social Security, no unpleasant surprises (like wars or computer bugs), and so on.

Once we've fabricated this future surplus, we decide how to spend it immediately. New programs, or tax cuts, or both. These policies take effect before it turns out that our assumptions were totally unrealistic. And the debt continues to grow.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 20, 1999.

The only stupid question is the one that isn't asked. Now I know that's not true (blush). That'll teach me to post at 2 am. Oh well! Economics was never my forte. It's just that whatever, the idea of a budget surplus seems like a catchall for all kinds of b.s.

Thanks for the comments Flint.

-- Debbie (dbspence@usa.net), March 20, 1999.


Economics is not rocket science. It's very simple; it can be boiled down into one acronym: TANSTAAFL. (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch -- Someone, somewhere, is paying for that lunch.)

-- A (A@AisA.com), March 20, 1999.

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